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18th Jan 2018

Joey Barton insists that Liverpool can’t sack Jon Flanagan because of precedent they set

Darragh Murphy

Jon Flanagan remains the subject of an internal Liverpool investigation after receiving his sentence for assaulting his girlfriend last month.

Flanagan pleaded guilty to common assault and was sentenced to 40 hours of unpaid work and a 12-month community order at a hearing this week and now Liverpool are set to consider “any internal disciplinary action”.

The defender has made just one appearance for the Reds this season, with a Carabao Cup start against Leicester only his 10th game for the club since the final day of the 2013/14 season.

Joey Barton has had his say on the Liverpool investigation into Flanagan’s behaviour, with the club stating that the 25-year-old “severely let down the club”.

Barton insists that the club simply cannot sack the player for his crime.

“Luis Suarez bites another professional player, racially abuses another player, is charged and found guilty and is not sacked.

“Actually, they wore T-shirts for him,” he said on talkSPORT.

“Steven Gerrard, club captain, has a fight in Southport, is in court, etc, etc and is not sacked.

“Let’s look at Roberto Firmino recently. Three times over the drink-drive limit, driving a car, which is very, very dangerous and he is not sacked, he is supported by the club.

“To sack Jon Flanagan over a mistake would be down to the fact the boy is not in the first team plans and it is a financial-based commodity decision rather than a football decision because if it is a football decision, it is hypocrisy.”

Barton, who is no stranger to controversy himself, knows Flanagan personally and even went on holiday with the Liverpool player once.

And while he didn’t look to make any excuses for him, the former Burnley, Rangers and QPR midfielder hopes that the focus turns to how to build Flanagan back up, rather than see his career ruined.

“I’m not condoning his behaviour. It is not right to strike out at anybody, especially a woman,” Barton continued.

“He has been punished by the law of the land and Jon has got a lot of atoning to do but they should utilise him in a positive manner, use him as an example of how you rehabilitate somebody in that kind of scenario.

“I stepped out of line multiple times and not been sacked and I’m not the first footballer. There is many, many, many of us.

“You forget they are young men. Jon is 25 and it is the first mistake he has made. I have never seen Jon in trouble before.

“He has made a grave error of judgement. He messed up. Does that make him a villain, should we ostracise him from the game? Of course not. We have got to help the kid.”

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