FA charges Barton over 'ill-advised' exposure at Everton

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The Independent Football

Joey Barton is expected to escape with a fine after being charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for dropping his shorts in front of Everton supporters.

The Manchester City midfielder has been charged with improper conduct and/or bringing his sport into disrepute following the incident when he bared his backside after exchanging banter with fans at Goodison Park last Saturday.

"It is deeply disappointing that the Football Association have decided to charge Joey Barton with improper conduct," a City spokesman, Paul Tyrrell, said. "The player accepts that some elements of his behaviour following the game with Everton were ill-advised and he apologises to anybody who may have felt offended. He has been reminded of his responsibilities as a custodian of this football club but we do not believe his actions warrant any further investigation. It is our firm opinion that the matter should end there.

"We believe the FA should have taken into account the context of the incident and noted he behaved without any malice, and in a light-hearted manner.

"Joey wishes to thank the many Evertonians, City supporters and general football fans who have contacted the club this week with messages of support. "

Barton, 24, has until 6pm today to respond, and an FA disciplinary commission will hear the case on Tuesday.

Although the most famous "mooning" incident in English football led to a two-match ban for Arsenal's Sammy Nelson following his actions in the 1979 FA Cup semi-final against Coventry, it is understood that Barton is more likely to be fined. The charge is of a similar scale to the one brought against Manchester United's Gary Neville in January when he ran 40 yards to taunt Liverpool fans following Rio Ferdinand's last-minute winner. He was later fined £5,000.

Merseyside Police have already confirmed they will not take any action against Barton. The City manager, Stuart Pearce, believes the matter should just have been laughed off, and that Barton had been the target of some unpleasant abuse, saying: "He kept a smile on his face throughout the whole incident and he's done something that, at worst, is a little bit childish."

* Reports last night claimed the Lord Stevens inquiry into 39 transfers involving eight unnamed clubs may prove to be a damp squib. Premier League insiders have claimed they would not be surprised if in two months' time, Stevens will report that 39 has come down to zero and he has found that no illegal payments have been made to club officials, employees or players.