Former England midfielder Joey Barton has accused the Football Association (FA) of unfairly forcing him into premature retirement by banning him for 18 months for betting offences.
The 34-year-old, who rejoined Burnley in January, has been suspended from all football activity until late 2018, by which team he will be 36, and fined £30,000.
Barton admitted a misconduct charge relating to placing 1,260 bets on football matches between March 2006 and May 2016, including some in which he backed his own team to lose.
The former Manchester City, Newcastle, QPR, Marseille and Rangers player, however, insists he will appeal the sanction, which he argued was excessively harsh because of his chequered past.
“I am very disappointed at the harshness of the sanction. The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football,” said Barton.
“I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players.”
FA rules on betting were tightened in 2014 to prohibit any players and staff in the top eight divisions from betting on any football-related matter.
Before that they were banned from betting on matches or competitions that they had involvement in. Barton’s charges related to both sets of rules.
Barton emphasised that he only bet on matches involving his own team when he was not in the match-day squad.
He also cited his addiction to gambling as a mitigating factor and questioned the moral authority of a football establishment that has close ties to the gambling industry.
“I think if the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet,” he added.
My response to the FA's sanction and for transparency the table of bets involved. https://t.co/U4H6ByhVcd— Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 26, 2017
Barton said his 1,260 football wagers were among more than 15,000 bets that he placed on various sports during that time using his online account, with an average stake of more than £150.
One of the gambles published on his website involved betting against his Manchester City team-mate Giorgios Samaras to be the first goalscorer in a Premier League match with Fulham in April 2006. Barton won £30.
His ban is the latest episode in a controversial career.
Barton, who has battled alcoholism, has received two criminal convictions for assault and several FA bans for violent conduct, as well as a club fine for extinguishing a cigar in the eye of a City youth team player in 2004.
He has made 421 senior appearances, including one for England.