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Sep 5, 2008

Barton handed six-match ban for Dabo attack

Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton has been banned for six matches by the Football Association for his attack on Ousmane Dabo, with a futher six games suspended. The England international attacked Dabo during a Manchester City training session in May 2007 but the Football Association's disciplinary hearing was delayed until now due to the criminal proceedings. The midielder was handed a four-month suspended jail term for the offence, handed down while he was in prison for a street attack in Liverpool last Christmas.

The player will be suspended until Newcastle make the trip to Sunderland for the Tyne-Wear derby on October 25. The further six games are suspended until the end of the 2009/10 season and will come into force should the 26-year-old be charged with a similar offence, including being sent from the field of play for violent conduct. He was also fined £25,000 after pleading guilty to the charge.

Barton may count himself lucky to some extent with speculation that he could be banned for 15 matches by the FA.

A statement on the FA's website read: 'Much has been written about Mr Barton over recent months. The Regulatory Commission had the benefit of taking all appropriate information into consideration. The Commission members considered principally the serious attack by Mr Barton that clearly cannot be accepted.

'The members also had to take into consideration the sanctions imposed by the courts and the pro-active support Mr Barton has received from Newcastle United FC and other professional bodies.

'The Commission members wanted to punish the offence appropriately but give Mr Barton an opportunity to ensure his professional conduct does not falter again and ensure he is fully aware of the consequences should he make another serious error of judgement.'

Departing Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan had been a staunch supporter of the troubled star, insisting he deserved another chance to right his wrongs. Keegan, who was also the player's manager at Manchester City, faxed a letter of support to the FA ahead of the hearing.

As part of his rehabilitation Barton has stopped drinking, a response to the attack which saw him put behind bars. He has not touched alcohol for eight months after being helped out by the Sporting Chance clinic. It is hoped this will help to prevent the player getting into further trouble.

His career has been dogged by disciplinary problems on and off the pitch. The first red card of his career came in February 2004 at half-time in an FA Cup tie at Tottenham Hotspur when he showed persistent dissent to match officials.

Keegan was furious with Barton in July of that year when a reckless challenge in a pre-season friendly at Doncaster resulted in a mass brawl on the pitch - and Barton was sent straight home.

Later that year the off-field problems began when, as City's Christmas party, Barton inexplicably stubbed out a lit cigar in the eye of youth team player James Tandy. He was fined four weeks' wages by his club.

Then, in July 2005 on the club's pre-season tour of Thailand, Barton was involved in an altercation with a 15-year-old Everton fan at the team's hotel in Bangkok. This led to an eight-week fine and Barton was told to take an anger management course.

Barton appeared to have put his badboy days behind him through the 2005/06 season but then in September 2006 he dropped his shorts in the direction of Everton fans after a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. Three months later he was sent off for the second time in his career after a two-footed lunge on Bolton's Abdoulaye Faye.

In 2007, Barton's troubles intensified. In March he was arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage after being involved in an incident with a taxi driver. Two months later came the attack on Dabo which led to Barton being sold to Newcastle United for £5.8million.

It was a risk for new Magpies boss Sam Allardyce, who firmly believed he could get the player on the straight and narrow. But at Christmas came the attack in Liverpool city centre. Allardyce had allowed the injured Barton to return to Merseyside for Christmas but after a night of drinking he attacked another person in the street. That led to a six-month jail term for common assault and affray with the judge describing the attack as 'violent and cowardly'.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was persuaded against sacking Barton by Keegan. The club then reportedly tried to sell Barton on transfer deadline day and this is believed to be one of several reasons Keegan walked away from the club this week.

It remains far from certain what will happen to Barton once the transfer market reopens in January with a new manager in charge at St James' Park.

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