Joey Barton could start next season with a 10-match ban – or even longer - after the Football Association charged him with two acts of violent conduct following his sending-off in QPR’s defeat by Manchester City.
Barton was sent off for elbowing Carlos Tevez and then kicked Sergio Aguero before attempting to headbutt Vincent Kompany.
He will receive an automatic four-match ban as it was his second dismissal of the season, and could receive three-match suspensions for each of the violent conduct charges.
On top of that, the FA’s regulatory panel will have discretionary powers to further increase the length of the suspension if charges are found to be proven. Barton’s admission on Twitter that his violent actions were a cynical ploy to provoke a City player to be sent off could see those discretionary powers employed.
Barton insisted via Twitter that he had not lost his head but that a team-mate “suggested I should try to take 1 of theirs with me”.
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes said Barton’s future would be reviewed but that the 29-year-old had been an integral part of the club.
“There are experienced people who will come back to me and we’ll review the whole situation,” he told BBC Sport. “Joey has been an integral part of the club and has played his part.
“This is football, and I’m new to it. I don’t profess to have all the answers.”
Barton has until 6pm today to respond to the charges.
The FA said in a statement yesterday: “The FA has today charged Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton in relation to two acts of alleged violent conduct during Sunday’s match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
“Following the player’s dismissal in the 54th minute of the fixture, there followed two incidents involving Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany.
“As Barton had already been dismissed, both of these incidents fell outside of the jurisdiction of the referee.”
Barton last night followed up his expletive-laden Twitter attack on Alan Shearer, his former manager at Newcastle and current Match of the Day pundit, by turning on the programme’s presenter, Gary Lineker, saying: “back under your stone you odious little toad...”