Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton will face no action from the Football Association after the governing body confirmed last night there was not sufficiently clear evidence to support complaints from Portsmouth fans that he abused them with obscene gestures.
The complaints came after the Premiership match at Fratton Park on February 10, when Barton's challenge on Pedro Mendes resulted in the Pompey midfielder being carried off on a stretcher.
The incident sparked a torrent of abuse from home supporters at Barton and a Portsmouth steward said he saw Barton making obscene gestures towards fans at the end of the game and that a police officer spotted his actions.
The FA have been in contact with Hampshire Police at their invitation after the constabulary issued a statement that said 'something of concern' had occurred at the end of the match.
But an FA spokesman said: 'From the investigations we have made and the information received there is not clear enough evidence to warrant proceeding with any action against Joey Barton.'
The verdict will delight City manager Stuart Pearce, who has stood up loyally for his controversial midfielder.
But the FA have already stated they cannot take further action against Barton for the tackle on Mendes as referee Mike Dean saw it and booked him.
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp, however, has stated publicly that he thought Barton had deliberately stamped on Mendes and that anybody who thinks it was an accident 'needs their head looking at.'
Redknapp's protestations to Dean over the incident have landed him with an FA charge of verbally abusing a match official and he has until next Monday to request a personal hearing.
Mendes has a good chance of making his comeback in Pompey's Premiership game at Blackburn on Sunday after scans showed he had only badly bruised his Achilles tendon.