JOEY Barton claims a year-long dispute over bonuses has cost everyone who fought the players’ corner their Newcastle United futures – and that manager Chris Hughton was made to pay for not reining them in.
Barton was part of a players committee given an unusual degree of influence by Hughton. A little over a year after the latter’s departure, none are important figures at St James’ Park.
The dispute was finally settled this season, but Barton believes grudges remain.
“We refused as a playing staff (to sign) because they tried to railroad the players into signing a bonus sheet,” is Barton’s version of events, as explained to the Open All Rs podcast, which Newcastle have not commented on.
“Their opinion was we were paid workforce.
“They thought we were Sports Direct and we should do what the subordinates at Sports Direct do, forgetting you’re dealing with 20-odd egos, probably ten self-sufficient men in a position to make a number of different judgements.
“Myself, Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith, Steve Harper and Andy Carroll – probably the bigger-name players at the time – advised the playing staff not to sign the bonus sheet and that filtered back to boardroom level.
“It’s no coincidence that I got sold – well, given away – Andy Carroll was sold, Kevin Nolan was sold, Steve Harper – a fantastic servant for the football club – has been forced to go on loan and maybe his position has become untenable.
“And Alan Smith has been told he has to train with the reserves and for the rest of his days that they don’t want him anywhere near the football club.
“It’s all about power and control.”
Barton added: “It’s going really well for them at the minute but that’s more a testament to the players and the fans, and also the manager (Alan Pardew).
“I just wouldn’t like to go to work and work for those two... cretins.”
Barton viewed the dispute as the main reason for Hughton’s sacking in December 2010.
“Because Chris couldn’t get us to sign (up to the bonuses offered), Mike Ashley said he’s got no control over the players, he needs to go,” he speculated.
“They got rid of Chris Hughton and the way they did it I felt they could have handled themselves with a bit more dignity. I felt aggrieved by it.”