Sunday, July 12, 2020
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I saw in the news today that Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov has been given a one year ban for competing in the Lausanne grand prix whilst pissed. Leaping up into the air backwards halfway through a vodka bender doesn't sound particularly wise to me, but those crazy cossacks love a tipple. Apparently this poor chap was having issues with his girlfriend.

Women. "It's a shame. By competing in such a condition he has disgraced all Russian track and field athletes," Russia athletics head coach Valentin Maslakov is reported to have said, but that seems somewhat harsh and I can't help but think that the punishment does not fit the crime. After all, the silly sod was only endangering himself.

Which brings me to Joey Barton, who despite already having more strikes against him than the Spanish Baggage Handlers Union, received only a paltry 6 match ban from the FA for the incident where he clobbered a team-mate from behind before repeatedly striking him. Apparently poor Ousmane Dabo resembled The Elephant Man following Bartons savage and sickening act of cowardice. In the same week, Chelsea and Serbia defender Slobodan Rajkovic was given a one year ban by Fifa for spitting on a referee during the Olympic Games. Obviously gobbing on an official is foul and clearly the Balkan flem merchant should be punished, but when put in context with the Barton incident, there certainly seems to be a lack of parity and justice. 

I think Bartons ban should have been much lengthier. The guy has had plenty of chances to redeem himself only to continue to get involved in despicable off field episodes. It didn't receive much coverage because of other, more spectacular events, but one of the shocks of transfer deadline day was that somebody actually thought it was a good idea to make a transfer bid for Barton (it has never been officially confirmed, but it was thought to have been Paul Ince at Blackburn.) What struck me was the backlash against the rumour on Sky Sports News, fans from several clubs emailing in to express their hopes that it wasn't there team that had made the offer.

One Everton fan wrote in to say that he would burn his season ticket and shirt were Barton to become a toffee. When I mentioned this to my dad (a Spurs fan) he said that such a signing would be it for him too and even though he'd followed the club since he was four, he couldn't bring himself to spend several hours travelling up to London to pay to watch Joey Barton. There is a line between being disappointed with a signing and being disgusted with one and in the eyes of many, the distinction is clear when it comes to acquiring Barton.

Chairmen and managers will definitely have to consider the negative consequences of alienating a proportion of their fanbase that the purchasing of a football pariah like Barton would incur. They should ask themselves "What Price Success?" I certainly don't want want to see him at Aston Villa and in fact, I don't want to see him now, so the second accompanying picture is of his much more attractive namesake Mischa, whilst the top one will hopefully cheer up poor old Ivan, who's got nothing better to do with his time now than to drink copious amounts of vodka whilst reading this blog.



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