Football: FA say Barton ban 'shortest possible'

The Football Association insisted Thursday they had given Joey Barton "the shortest possible" ban after hitting him with an 18-month suspension from the sport.

In a move that the 34-year-old Burnley midfielder plans to challenge fearing it will otherwise end his career, English football's governing body announced Wednesday it had banned Barton "from all football activity" for 18 months after he admitted a charge relating to 1,260 bets he placed on football matches between 2006 and 2016.

Barton, in a 1,500-word statement issued on his website, took issue with the "harshness of the sanction" as he blamed his addiction to gambling.

But in its written reasons published Thursday explaining Wednesday's decision, the FA said Barton's "dismissive attitude" towards the rules had also affected the length of his ban.

The FA also revealed Barton had placed 1,260 bets worth �205,172 ($264,684, 243,371 euros) at a loss of �16,708 ($21,555, 19,819 euros).

"His addiction may have distorted his thinking in part, but it is not a compete answer for this continued conduct," the FA, who also hit Barton with a �30,000 fine, said.

In his lengthy statement, Barton -- who admitted betting on his team to lose although not in matches where he was playing -- also questioned whether the FA's rules were consistent with allowing vast sponsorship of football by betting companies, with Premier League Burnley having the name of Dafabet on their shirts.

The FA agreed Barton's "difficulties are compounded by the fact betting is "everywhere in sport" and it accepted his gambling was "not calculated to make money". According to the FA, this "mitigates the gravity of his offending".

Nevertheless, the FA concluded that "the shortest possible sanction to reflect the totality of his betting breaches was a suspension from football and footballing activity for a period of 18 months".

Barton's short-term contract with Burnley is up at the end of the year.

- 'Bigger picture' -

Clarets manager Sean Dyche, who re-signed Barton after he had been charged by the FA, said he had a right to feel his punishment was excessive in comparison to the nine month-ban given to former Manchester United star Eric Cantona for attacking a spectator in 1995.

"He feels it's a bit harsh," Dyche said Thursday. "We equally feel it's a bit harsh. I don't know how you balance all these different things in football.

"One of the most obvious was that the legend that is Eric Cantona kung-fu kicking something -- he got a nine-month ban.

Dyche added: "The FA, we understand they have a role and we respect their decision, we have to.

"I can only assume they're going to move on to cheating, which is at a level that needs to be sorted out: diving, feigning of injury, falling to the floor."

Barton, whose former clubs include Manchester City, Newcastle United, Marseille and Glasgow giants Rangers, said Wednesday the severity of his ban was "heavier than it might be for other less controversial players".

He certainly has had a chequered career.

In May 2008, he was jailed for six months over a late-night attack on a man and a teenage boy in the centre of his home city of Liverpool.

In July that year, he was given a four-month suspended jail term for attacking his then Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo in training.