JOEY BARTON has made a sensational claim that Celtic tried to lure him to Parkhead before he agreed his two-year deal at Ibrox in the summer.
The controversial 34-year-old midfielder, after only eight appearances, is already on the brink of an exit from the troubled Govan outfit and is on a three-week suspension following a bust-up with under-pressure boss Mark Warburton.The training ground flare-up came in the aftermath of the Hoops’ runaway 5-1 Glasgow derby triumph at Parkhead where Barton spent most of the game in Scott Brown’s back pocket.
But the much-travelled Englishman made the remarkable claim that he “took a call from an agent” apparently working on behalf of the champions.
Barton said: “The message he conveyed was straight and to the point. ‘Is there anything we can do together? Can we have a conversation?’
“I sent word back, thanking him for his interest, but confirming my intentions.”
Barton’s claim may just come as news to Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers!
Indeed informed Celtic supporters understand that Barton’s agent called Celtic before agreeing to sign for the four year old Ibrox club but was told that Celtic had no interest in the player, believing that the club already had better midfielders on their books, even before Brendan Rodgers set about re-modelling the squad.
Barton presumably took this to mean Scott Brown, thus he very public attacks on the former Scotland captain after the English journeyman arrived in Govania.
Over on Twitter, STV’s Raman Bhardwaj is quoting Peter Lawwell saying: ”An agent called me saying that Joey was going to sign for Rangers but he would really prefer to come to Celtic.”
Scott Brown certainly had the last laugh, after looking the loud mouth straight in the eye, his side thumped the new club 5-1.
Meanwhile, in another strange twist, it has emerged the player is under investigation for betting on a CELTIC match.
He is now being probed by the Gambling Commission for betting on the Hoops to suffer a heavy defeat in last week’s Champions League encounter in Barcelona.
The SFA, of course, operate a zero tolerance policy policy on players betting on football matches.
The Gambling Commission will present their findings to the SFA before the matter is handed over to compliance officer Tony McGlennan, who will decide what course of action, if any, should be taken against Barton.
In September 2013, former Ibrox midfielder Ian Black was suspended for three games after admitting to gambling on 160 matches over a seven-year period – including betting against his own team in three games.
His former team-mate, goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, served a one-game suspension for betting on 50 games over a period of 12 months.