Joey Barton Claims 50 Percent of Footballers Bet on Games: 'Half the League Would Be Banned'

Joey Barton has claimed half of professional footballers are betting on matches as he believes it is "culturally engrained" in football.

Barton, the former Manchester City, Newcastle and Burnley midfielder, was banned from playing for 18 months in April 2017 by the Football Association for breaching betting rules.

The 35-year-old was fined £30,000 after it was discovered he'd place 1,260 bets over 10 years but had his suspension reduced by five months after appeal, and is able to return in June.

But Barton insists he is not the only player in English football to bet. "I think if they found out everyone who has been betting and cracked down on it, you'd have half the league out," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think 50 percent of the playing staff would be taken out because it's culturally engrained."

Barton, who also played for Queens Park Rangers, Marseille and Rangers, admits he is addicted to gambling and has described it as a "constant battle", claiming he has placed more than 15,000 bets over the last 12 years.

But Barton insists he didn't see the gambling as a form of match-fixing, and is now calling on the Football Association to address the culture within football.

Joey Barton
Joey Barton at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England, April 2017. Barton was banned after the FA found him to have breached betting rules. Alex Livesey/Getty

"Where we've got it wrong is that we've got the gambling rules mixed up with the match-fixing rules," added Barton. "Match-fixing is wrong and challenges the integrity of the sport, it's the same as taking performance-enhancing drugs.

"I think culturally betting is acceptable. There's nothing wrong with betting if it's controlled—it's when it becomes out of control and people bet beyond their means.

"My point to the FA was, how can they be so stringent when they have an official gambling partner?

"I'd had a betting account in my name for 12 years. I was doing things for betting companies and they were paying me in betting account money—they weren't informing the FA."

Former FA chief executive Adrian Bevington described Barton's estimation as an "anecdotally large number" and said the rules about betting were "very clear."