Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton replies after the club’s recruitment is put in the spotlight

Joey Barton has addressed the issue of race surrounding Fleetwood Town after an article was published which seemed to question the club’s recruitment policy.

Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 6:00 am
Nathan Pond spent 15 years with Fleetwood Town
Nathan Pond spent 15 years with Fleetwood Town

The piece in question raised the point that there currently isn’t a BAME first team player at the club.

However, it also noted there is an international youth team comprised almost exclusively of BAME players as well as several BAME players on the fringes of the first team and throughout the Poolfoot system.

It also makes reference to head of sport science, Youl Mawene, but barely mentions club legend Nathan Pond, who was given the chance to extend his 15 years at the club last year before moving on.

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Fleetwood and Barton were aware of the article, and while they can’t argue about the lack of black players, they don’t see it as anything that has happened by design.

Barton said: “It’s a valid article. We’ve discussed it.

“For me, in terms of football players, maybe naively, I just don’t think that way.

“I just think about the best player. Who is the best player for our team at this moment in time to help us win games?

“I struggle with BAME coaches getting positions because of the colour of their skin or their heritage.

“For me, it’s bizarre. I understand what they’re trying to do but for me it sends the wrong message.

“It should be people who are the best candidate, regardless of male, female, gay, straight, black, white.”

Barton is fearful of categorising people and setting a wrong precedent for future generations and would rather people were seen as people, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

The Fleetwood head coach did also admit there are more factors involved in recruitment.

He said: “We just see people, we’re human beings. We just see people that are good at their jobs and come in and contribute.

“We can’t change things overnight. You’re governed, especially when you have our resources financially, in terms of being able to recruit people into the area to ask them to come and play for us as a club.

“There are other factors at play. The population of the Fylde coast is something like 98 per cent white, which means there isn’t a lot of diversity in the area anyway.

“If Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Kylian Mbappe were available I’d have them tomorrow, but I don’t think they want to come and live in Fleetwood.”