They might be bottom of League One’s fair play table but Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton does not believe his side is the dirtiest in the division.
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Town have racked up the most disciplinary points in the whole of League One thanks to 80 yellow cards and six reds from 35 games in all competitions.
It comes as Barton returns from a two-match touchline ban for Town’s match at Rochdale on Saturday, having been banished to the stands for the FA Cup defeat to AFC Wimbledon and draw with Oxford United after his red card at Bristol Rovers.
Barton was banned for using foul and abusive language towards referee Brett Huxtable after Rovers’ late winner and was also fined for his post-match comments.
He had been angered by the decision to send off Ched Evans in that game, a decision that was overturned on appeal.
However, the striker was subsequently banned for foul and abusive comments towards Huxtable in the tunnel after the game, meaning he sits out the last of his two-match ban at Rochdale.
When asked if their standing in the disciplinary table was an issue, Barton said: “No. Not really.
“Do you lose points for being at the bottom of it?
“I’ve already had a fine so I have to be careful what I say about it.
“I’ve already had a £4,500 fine and a two-match ban for telling you the truth – or my version of the truth – so I have to be very careful.
“I will not be telling you anywhere near the truth in future.
“I have learned my lesson when it comes to referees, especially when you have the referees’ manager in who completely agrees with everything you have said and then the FA don’t.
“It is bizarre but that is the world that we live in at the moment.
“Do I think we have been the dirtiest team in the league this year? No, far from it.
“Do I think we have been treated unfairly on numerous occasions? Yes, I do.
“I can’t voice that because I will get banned from the touchline again.
“I don’t think we have been a nasty, horrible team, we have to accept that.
“I don’t pay much attention to those tables. It is what it is.”
Nevertheless, the Town boss is pleased to be back in the dugout at Rochdale.
He said: “I’m delighted.
“I never want to be away from the team.
“It is disappointing but I have to accept it, move on and learn my lessons going forward so that I am with the team as much as I can possibly be.”