Joey Barton’s Football Association hearing into betting charges has been postponed, it has been confirmed.
The 34-year-old Burnley midfielder was due to appear before an FA commission on Wednesday, having accepted a misconduct charge relating to 1,260 bets over a 10-year period.
It is possible a lengthy ban could ensue – though no direct precedent exists – and the Clarets were prepared for the fact that he could have played his final match for the club with his contract up at the end of the season.
But Press Association Sport understands the hearing was not able to take place as planned and, with no new date yet set, Barton is free to play in Sunday’s Premier League match at Liverpool.
Charges had already been laid against Barton when Burnley re-signed him in January. though provisions were made in his contract should any ban be forthcoming.
The once-capped England international was a key part of the Clarets’ Championship-winning campaign last season, but initially declined the opportunity to represent the club in the Premier League, opting instead to try his hand north of the border with Rangers.
It was a brief and tempestuous spell at Ibrox, comprising just eight matches, dissension on the training ground, suspension, stress leave and, finally, a mutually-terminated contract.
He also served a one-game ban from the Scottish Football Association for placing 44 bets between July and September.
He was invited back to train with Burnley by manager Sean Dyche, stayed to sign terms and has appeared in 11 matches to date.
The last of those came against Swansea at the weekend, with Barton substituted late on feeling his hamstring.
With the FA hearing now awaiting rescheduling, his fitness is now the only question mark against an appearance in his home city at the weekend.