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Ex-Newcastle Joey Barton can’t believe how he now has reached point of feeling sorry for Sunderland

3 days ago
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Fair to say that Joey Barton has enjoyed a ‘lively’ relationship with Sunderland fans down the years.

Arriving at Newcastle United, the midfielder predictably became a focus for abuse from the Mackems and he wasn’t shy in having a go back.

Even after departing St James Park the fractious banter continued, especially via social media, Joey Barton in regular exchanges with Sunderland fans.

Sunderland’s fall into League One then coincided with Barton’s first job in management, at minnows Fleetwood Town.

The lively relationship given fresh legs as Joey Barton was keen to remind Wearsiders of his Newcastle past and for his team to give that little bit extra in matches between the two clubs.

Despite a vast difference in resources and wage bills, remarkably Sunderland are still waiting for a first win over Barton’s Fleetwood, three 1-1 draws and a 2-1 victory for Fleetwood in April 2019.

However, thirteen years after joining Newcastle United, Joey Barton is now finding himself experiencing the strangest of emotions: ‘I do feel sorry for Sunderland – I never thought I’d say that – but I do feel sorry for them.’

The unexpected sympathy comes as League One and the other lower league look for a solution to closing off this 2019/20 season.

Following the latest EFL board meeting, League One is now set to be decided on an unweighted points per game. Clubs now casting their votes on that model and the decision set to be announced next week.

If, as expected, that vote passes, places are decided on an unweighted points per game method, it would see Southend, Bolton and Tranmere all relegated.

Whilst the top of League One under points per game would end up as:

It would mean the current top two Coventry and Rotherham promoted to the Championship, with play-offs then expected to decide who is promoted alongside the top two teams.

Fleetwood would / will drop one place but still make the play-offs in sixth, whilst Peterborough would be the biggest losers, dropping out of the play-offs and Wycombe who have played a game less than them actually ending up third (the current table sees only one point separating third to eighth.

Sunderland are seventh in the current table but as you see on the unweighted points per game basis, would drop one place further to eighth and be guaranteed a third season in a row in League One, with all Premier League parachute payments at an end.

Joey Barton speaking to Sky Sports:

“I would prefer to finish the campaign, we’ve been quite vocal about that from the start. We believe we could have got [one of] the [automatic promotion places], I think we’d had one defeat in 17, unbeaten in 12 and been away to every side who had a chance of winning the league.

“We had to play nine games, six of those were in the bottom 10, three of those six were in the bottom three – you’d argue Bolton and Southend were already down and probably only Tranmere fighting for survival there – so we felt like we had a shot at the automatics, we were two points behind Rotherham with them to play at home.

“We’re disappointed in this but we will get a chance with a play-off situation and I do feel sorry for Sunderland – I never thought I’d say that – but I do feel sorry for them.

“I feel a bit aggrieved for Gillingham, Doncaster and even Ipswich probably because they all would have had a legitimate shot at a play-off place. Peterborough, who are a very good side, it looks like if they do a points system they will miss out [along with Sunderland] and Wycombe will jump in with Oxford, Portsmouth and ourselves.

“I think there are a lot of factors [surrounding teams not wanting to play the rest of the season]. They don’t have much ambition to play on because they don’t have much to play for and that’s understandable.”

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