By 90Min
January 23, 2018

Former Burnley midfielder Joey Barton claims 50% of professional footballers bet on matches, acknowledging it is a serious problem in the profession.

Barton himself was issued a one-match by the Scottish Football Association during his short, eventful spell at Rangers for gambling.

However, the English Football Association's discovery of the 35-year-old placing over 1,200 bets in ten years led to an eighteen-month ban and a fine of £30k in April of yesteryear.

Steve Welsh/GettyImages

Like at Rangers, Barton had his contract subsequently terminated a month later, but an appeal in July reduced his suspension by five months.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today show, the one-cap English international claimed there is a massive problem regarding gambling within professional football.

"I think if they found out everyone who has been betting and cracked down on it, you'd have half the league out.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

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

Indeed, bets have already taken off for Jamie Vardy to leave Leicester in the January transfer window.

Gambling on matches is a serious offence in all tiers of football within England, and Barton believes the FA can do more to alleviate the issue.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

"Where we've got it wrong is that we've got the gambling rules mixed up with the match-fixing rules. 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 believed that no-one cared about betting. I thought they just cared about match-fixing.

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

Barton also plied his trade with Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United, as well as a stint in France with Olympique de Marseille.

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