THE Football Association will try to do what Newcastle United have been unable to – and stop Joey Barton’s Twitter outbursts.
The never-less-than-controversial midfielder has hogged the football headlines in recent weeks with his rantings on the social networking site.
Despite the Merseysider’s attempts to paint himself as one of the English game’s intellectuals, much of his output has cast him and the game in a poor light – to the discomfort of the game’s governing body.
As well as attacking Newcastle’s owners – resulting in him being transfer-listed – he has also piled into leading football journalists and Magpies legend Alan Shearer, as well as dabbling in politics.
The latter is of no interest to the FA, but the rest falls under their rules about bringing the game into disrepute. They are considering what action to take against the 28-year-old.
Barton has already caused Newcastle to be in trouble at Soho Square this week, with Arsenal and United charged for failing to control their players during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at St James’ Park.
The 28-year-old was involved in the two of its most unsavoury incidents, stamped on by Alexander Song, prompting an angry march off the field to remonstrate with the fourth official, then trying to take justice into his own hands after what he saw as a “dive” by Gervinho.
The Ivory Coast forward responded to Barton’s aggressive advances by slapping him on the head, causing the player to tumble to the turf – “too eas(il)y” as Barton later admitted on Twitter.
Former Newcastle target Gervinho was sent off for his behaviour, while Song was charged with violent conduct. Both could receive three-match bans which would include games against Liverpool and Manchester United.
Barton was booked for his reaction to Gervinho. United confirmed they will contest the charge made against them.
The Magpies have tried to regulate their players’ use of Twitter. Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi, Nile Ranger, Jonás Gutiérrez and Danny Simpson all have accounts with the website, allowing them to pass instant comment on any subject which takes their fancy without having to go through the club’s press office.
Like Barton and former left-back José Enríque, Ranger has also used it to question the running of the club.
As a response, Newcastle have told their players they are unable to discuss football matters on the website.
It has even reached the stage where players have been censured for positive comments about reserve-team fixtures.
All new contracts at St James’ Park will contain specific measures about social networking sites but Barton’s deal was signed in 2007 when Twitter usage was still in its tens of thousands.
Barton only joined Twitter in May, but has nearly 400,000 followers thanks in no small part to the publicity surrounding his regular outbursts since returning to pre-season.
The FA traditionally views negative comments about the game in a poor light, whatever the medium.
In March Carlton Cole was fined £20,000 for improper comments made on Twitter having joked about Ghanaian immigrants after England’s friendly with the Black Stars.
Then-Liverpool forward Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 for a mocked-up picture of Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt.
Sochaux’s Modibo Maiga hopes to complete a move to Newcastle after not playing in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Caen.
“I want it to be done with Newcastle,” said the 8m euro-rated Mali striker, who is 23. “I met everybody, they want me and it is not any club. England is a dream.
“I want to leave, it is necessary that the president agrees to negotiate.”
Meanwhile, Webb will be the referee of Saturday’s Wear-Tyne derby. He officiated the meeting of the two local rivals in each of their previous two seasons together in the Premier League.