Joey Barton leaves Fleetwood Town: Sudden end to an eventful reign
Joey Barton's sudden departure from Fleetwood Town ends a two-and-a-half-year Fleetwood Town reign which was as colourful as everyone predicted.
A friend of Fleetwood owner Andy Pilley, Barton's appointment certainly raised eyebrows and the profile of the Highbury club when it was announced in April 2018.
Before assuming his duties at Highbury, Barton had to complete an FA suspension for breach of betting rules.
The former Manchester City, Rangers, Newcastle United and most recently Burnley midfielder guided Town, who had battled relegation in 2017/18, to a comfortable 11th-placed finish in his first season in charge, winning 16 of their 46 league games.
It would prove to be Barton's only full campaign at the helm, with the 2019/20 season curtailed by Covid-19.
Fleetwood stood fifth when play was halted last March, having won 16 of their 35 games, dropping to sixth when the final table was readjusted on a points-per-game basis.
It meant that after a break of almost four months, Town returned to contest the League One play-offs for the second time in their history, losing 6-3 to eventual Wembley winners Wycombe Wanderers in a two-legged semi-final.
This season, Barton leaves the club 10th in League One, with eight wins and seven defeats from 20 games to date.
Town looked set for another promotion charge after scoring nine goals in two games against Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle in November.
However, Fleetwood have won just one of their seven League One games since, scoring only four goals in those fixtures.
Overall, Barton presided over 101 league fixtures as Fleetwood boss, winning 40 and losing 31.
In all competitions, he was in charge for 123 games, with 51 wins and 41 defeats.
A court case continues to hang over Barton's head following an incident involving then Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel in the tunnel area after Town's defeat at Oakwell in April 2019.
Barton was subsequently charged with assault, though a court case set for June last year has been put back 12 months because of the pandemic.
The catalyst for Barton's departure appears to have been a dispute with striker Ched Evans.
Barton announced after the 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic on December 19 that the striker had been dropped for disciplinary reasons and would be leaving the club.
That turned out to be Barton's last press conference as Fleetwood manager, with assistant Clint Hill addressing the media after the Boxing Day draw at Crewe.
Fleetwood have since seen three matches postponed for reasons related to coronavirus, with the club announcing on New Year's Eve that the squad and staff had gone into self-isolation following positive tests.
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