The career of controversial footballer Joey Barton seems to be to be over after he was banned for 18 months on betting charges.
Barton, who plays for Burnley, accepted Football Association charges that accused him of having placed 1,260 bets on football matches between 2006 and 2013.
The figure includes at least five matches in which he was a player.
Professional footballers are not permitted to place bets on their own sport.
Despite having admitted to the offences, the 34 year old former Manchester City midfielder, says he will appeal the length of his suspension and also believes there was nothing “untoward or suspicious” about his behaviour.
"I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem - I'm disappointed it wasn't taken into proper consideration," he said.
The midfielder bet on some matches in which he played but he stressed in a statement on his website that "this is not match fixing" and that at "no point in any of this is my integrity in question".
He added: "I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players.
"The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement."
Later on Wednesday, Barton tweeted: "Thanks for the many messages of support. I have breached FA rules. I have been honest with the reasons. Many agree the punishment is OTT."
The PFA echoed those sentiments, saying that "sanctions for breaches must always be proportionate".
In a statement, they added: "We hope sufficient weight is given to the sanctions handed down in other cases of a similar nature."
Barton also called on the FA to do more to tackle the culture of gambling in football.
He added: "If the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet."
Joey returned to the Premier League only in January after five years’ absence.
His career has taken in spells at six clubs including Manchester City and Glasgow Rangers and he also earned a solitary cap for England under former coach Steve McClaren.
He, however be remembered more for his misdemeanours than his performances on the pitch.
In December 2004 he was fined six weeks’ wages for stubbing a lit cigar in the eye of a young team-mate during Manchester City’s Christmas party.
In May 2007 he was suspended by the same club after a training-ground altercation which later led to assault charges for which he received a four-month suspended jail sentence.
Later that year he was arrested in Liverpool city centre after a late-night incident and was charged with common assault and affray, and in May 2008 was jailed for six months.
In May 2012 Barton was banned for 12 matches for violent conduct when playing for Queens Park Rangers.
“Throughout my career I am someone who has made mistakes and owned up to those mistakes and tried to learn from them,” Barton said in his statement.
“I intend to do that here. I accept that this is one more mess I got into because of my own behaviour.
This episode has brought home to me that, just as I had to face up to the need to get help to deal with alcohol abuse, and with anger, so now I need to get help for my issues with gambling, and I will do so.
“As for the scale of my football betting, since 2004, on a Betfair account held in my own name, registered at my home address and verified by my own passport, with full transparency, I have placed over 15,000 bets across a whole range of sports.
Just over 1,200 were placed on football and subject to the charges against me. The average bet was just over £150, many were for only a few pounds.
“Raised at the hearing was that between 2004 and 2011 I placed a handful of bets on my own team to lose matches.
I accept of course that this is against the rules, for the obvious reason that a player with an additional financial stake in the game might seek to change the course of it for his own personal gain. However I’d like to offer some context.
“First, in every game I have played, I have given everything. I’m confident that anyone who has ever seen me play, or played with or against me, will confirm that to be the case.
I am more aware than anyone that I have character issues that I struggle with, and my addictive personality is one of them, but I am a devoted and dedicated professional who has always given my all on the pitch.”
Barton’s ban comes at a time when football has never been more closely intertwined with the gambling industry.
Eleven of the 20 current Premier League sides wear the logos of betting companies on their shirts, while the Football League itself is sponsored by a gambling company.
The growth in online or ‘remote’ gambling has meant that not just every match but most of the elements within them can now be gambled upon.
Recent estimates at the amount of gambling losses accrued in the UK put the total at around £300 per person per year.
According to reports, the FA was only made aware of the bets by the betting company in December 2016, which led to its investigation.
The high number of bets has resulted in a detailed and complex investigation and the timing of the charge was never related to Barton rejoining Burnley.
In fact, he would have been charged even if he had remained a free agent.
Barton began his career at Manchester City in 2001, joined Newcastle six years later and then signed for QPR in 2011. He had a loan spell with Marseille in France for 12 months, before joining Burnley for the first time in August 2015.
Barton left Scottish Premiership side Rangers in November and was even given a one-match ban for breaking Scottish Football Association rules on gambling.
He admitted to the Scottish FA charge of placing 44 bets between 1 July and 15 September 2016, while he was a player at Ibrox.