Joey Barton has issued an apology to Accrington Stanley and clarified his pitch comments ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the two sides.
After Town’s 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle was nearly washed and blown out by the weather Barton questioned if the Accrington game would be on given the weather and Stanley’s ‘poor’ pitch.
A fortnight later, Barton explained he was speculating on a potential postponement given Stanley have had games called off due to bad weather previously in the season – and that he meant no offence to Stanley owner Andy Holt, manager John Coleman and assistant boss Jimmy Bell.
He said: “I have a lot of respect for them as a football club, for John Coleman and Jimmy Bell and the things that they have done there.
“The way they have turned that club around and all they have done is an incredible feat.
“If anything I have said – which was about whether the game would be postponed or not – has been misconstrued or upset anyone then I really do apologise because it was not meant that way.
“What I was saying was the game might be postponed because of it (the pitch).
“It will be the same for both sides, Accrington are a very good footballing side.
“They sometimes do not get the credit for the level of football that they play.
“They are not a back to front team, they do not just hoof the ball.
“They have some lovely footballers, some quality players.
“Whenever Accrington play at home their pitch probably hurts them more than the opposition because they are one of the better footballing sides in the division.
“I’ve got enormous respect for them.
“We will go there on Saturday and pay them the greatest compliment we can which is by preparing like it is a European Cup final.
“We want to beat them Saturday, after that I hope they win every game; I hope they stay in the league.
“Saturday, I hope we beat them because we have objectives we need to fulfil and I hope we sit with them at the end of May.
“We will have a beer with John and Jimmy after the game; they are great people, great football people.
“I hope it is a fantastic game for the fans.
“I hope we win and they win their remaining fixtures and stay in the league.
“It is great to see clubs like that doing what they are doing and as a football man, growing up in the non-league scene, it is great to see them as an established Football League club – long may that continue.”