Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton has revealed his love of Newcastle United is why he turned down a move to Portsmouth in 2008.
The Magpies had accepted a bid from the Fratton Park outfit but Barton said he did not want to leave the North East and that their then boss, Kevin Keegan (pictured), did not want to sell him or loan out Michael Owen.
The duo remained at St James’ Park but that breakdown in communications over transfers was one of the reasons why Keegan resigned as Newcastle boss.
Barton would remain at Newcastle, a club he still is fond of, until 2011.
As the Town prepares to head to Fratton Park as a manager for the first time, Barton maintained the links with Portsmouth were a case of Newcastle trying to sell him rather than anything else.
He explained: “I would not say nearly signed, they tried to sell me to Portsmouth.
“But I never went there and did a medical or anything like that but they told me what they might offer me in terms of financial package
“I did not really get down the line with them.
“The club accepted a bid but I did not want to leave Newcastle. That was kind of that.”
Pompey were rumoured to be chasing Barton as they prepared for their maiden UEFA Cup campaign.
Manager Harry Redknapp had rubbished stories that they were interested in the one-cap England midfielder when he was asked by The News after the window had shut.
Yet Keegan insisted the Newcastle board attempted to engineer Barton a switch to Fratton Park; something that Barton confirmed was true at Town’s pre-match press conference on Thursday.
And Barton explained why he wanted to stay at Newcastle as he joked that the final straw for Keegan was trying to sell striker Owen rather than him!
He said: “It was just because I loved playing for Newcastle.
“It (Portsmouth) is a good club, in a nice part of the world on the south coast and I was settled where I was.
“Kevin Keegan was the manager at the time.
“He did not want to sell me it was people above who wanted to get rid of a few of us.
“I think Kevin ultimately ended up resigning over it or that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“They tried to get rid of Michael Owen as well, it was probably more so getting rid of Michael Owen.
“That was something that was mooted.
“It was something in the pipeline without getting into the solid stages of signing or doing a medical.”