A man who loves to quote fortune cookie philosophy like a teenager riding the downward crest of a first love, Joey Barton does not come across as one of the world’s great thinkers.

What he does come across as, however, is a toxic poster boy for the bruised and broken element of masculinity who have found themselves cast aside in a world where they are rapidly struggling to find a place. 

Barton’s place as a Premier League footballer was a comfortable vantage point from which to look upon the world. A gladiatorial arena where many of the rules of wider society have been slow to infiltrate, Barton was at home amidst the aggressive alpha male peacocking. 

As the game slowly mirrors wider changes, there has been a progression around the perception of women in football but it does not take great powers of detection to see what lurks beneath. 

Scratch the surface of social media, take a look at fans’ forums and have a read at newspaper comments and there is an immediate indication of a nasty machismo that resonates. Anyone who dips a toe in the waters of football commentary will inevitably offer an opinion that a certain demographic does not like. If you’re a woman with the audacity of a voice, the responses are wearily predictable; get back to the kitchen, love. Who’s making your man’s tea?  Yawn. 

One suspects the ire that is expressed via Barton’s social media platform stems from a fairly dark place. It would be too simplistic to suggest that self-hatred looks to relief itself by offloading elsewhere but that is exactly how Barton presents.

This week it was the turn of 17-year-old goalkeeper Ava Easdon to feel its full, disaffected force. The teenager’s mistake in Partick Thistle’s 4-1 defeat to Rangers in the Sky Sports Cup final on Sunday was seized upon with delicious glee by Barton whose sneering condescension prompted a metaphorical arm around the shoulder from the women’s football community for Easdon.

There is a strong argument to suggest that ignoring Barton and denying him the oxygen he so desperately craves is the only fitting to response to anything that comes out of his frantic keyboard bashing where fingers are engaged before brain. 

One suspects that the 41-year-old would have been tickled this week that his name dominated a press conference with the Scotland women’s manager ahead of the European Championships campaign kicking off, just as he would have revelled in the latest furore his twitter habit generated.

That Barton’s current pinned tweet is a begging bowl for a GoFundMe, generated as an appeal to help with his legal bill for a defamation cost, is fairly telling. However what it has told Barton does not appear to have quite sunk in.

But the problem with simply shunning Barton and his ilk comes down to the fact that he commands a following of 2.8m people. He speaks to an audience who identify with the misogyny and rage of a displaced middle-aged man who feels robbed that the world, and his place in it, is not what it was, is not what was promised.  

Ignoring him and ignoring those who walk in his shadow ignores the more sinister elements of what he spouts. It did not take long last week for a tweet about women’s football and the poor standard to morph into something else entirely; it was never really about the football.

Rangers captain Nicola Docherty’s challenge on Barton rapidly removed the veil. His verbal assault on the Scotland internationalist was in keeping with his assault on the English language; ‘Will youse all behave and put those victim, girl power cards away. They don’t work on people with a brain. Lesbo-Ball will never be as big as Men’s football, no matter how much you virtue signal. Ya too slow and ya not going to change that. It’s called biological evolution.’ 

His tweet led Rangers, one of his former clubs, to respond with a statement backing their captain, as they should have. Barton was not named but even that prompted a withering reaction from a section of their own support who were critical of a ‘woke’ response.

Which says it all. 


Scotland kick off their European Championships campaign this week with a double header against Serbia and Slovakia. It is a huge few months that lie ahead for Pedro Martinez Losa’s side who badly need to confine a bruising Nations League campaign to the back burner if they want to avoid another major tournament passing them by.

The Spaniard signed a long-term contract last September but all eyes will be on how his team fare. Scotland are the highest ranked side but need to reach the finals via the play-offs after their relegation into League B. 


There has been a prevailing feeling this season that Celtic fans and their civil war with the Celtic board could start a fight in an empty stadium. As the club announced two Celtic Park games across the coming weeks for the women’s side, it did not take long for discord and disconnect to reveal itself.

Last season there was a pilot project at Celtic’s SWPL game against Glasgow City as a trial for ‘The Celtic End’. Judging by events this week, the club have no appetite to continue with the experiment which prompted statements and accusations. If it underlined anything it is just how far apart in communication the two factions are.