Premier League

Joey Barton refused US visa, misses tour

Joey Barton linked with Arsenal move
Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton has been denied a US visa.
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Joey Barton and Nile Ranger will both miss Newcastle's pre-season trip to the United States after being refused entry visas.

The pair will instead travel to Holland with Peter Beardsley's reserve team squad and re-join their senior colleagues on their return to Tyneside.

Ranger's absence from the tour, which includes three friendlies, was confirmed Wednesday afternoon following an announcement earlier that Barton's visa application had been rejected.

The latter development was revealed in a club statement.

It said: "Newcastle United FC can confirm that Nile Ranger's visa application for entry to the United States has today been rejected.

"The player will therefore not travel to the US as part of the club's pre-season tour, but instead will join Joey Barton and his fellow team-mates on the club's reserve team tour to Holland.''

Barton, 28, spent 74 days in jail in 2008 after admitting an assault charge, while Ranger, now 20, landed himself in trouble as a juvenile.

The news is embarrassing for Newcastle, who have worked hard in recent years to clean up their image after a series of lurid headlines, and is also an irritation to manager Alan Pardew as he attempts to mould his revamped squad ahead of the new Barclays Premier League season.

Ranger has been told he can leave Tyneside after failing to win a regular place, but Barton remains an integral member of the team, although Pardew is convinced he will slot seamlessly back into the squad after the American trip.

The manager told the Evening Chronicle: "Joey is still suffering from past misdemeanours.

"He has put his life back on track, and long may that continue.

"I have no problem with integrating Joey into the team without him coming to the United States.

"There is no problem. He will go to Holland with the development group and do the work there.''

The midfielder, who spent some time in America on holiday last month, was philosophical as news of his rejected application was made public.

He said: "Unfortunately, I was denied my visa due to my past.

"I regret not being able to travel with the club on this trip, but at the same time, I don't expect to be treated any differently or more favourably than anyone else in a similar situation.

"All I can do is continue to improve as a person, which is what I intend to do.

"Again, apologies to all the NUFC supporters - as well as the fast growing legions of football supporters in the United States, who I was looking forward to meeting. I will see you in the future.''

He later elaborated by way of his Twitter account, tweeting: "Visa story is correct, they told me am not allowed in until I have 5yrs without any trouble. 3yrs down, 2yrs to go...

"Totally hypocrisy considering what they get up to, but rules are rules...''

Barton was imprisoned following an incident in Liverpool city centre in December 2007, but has since sought help for the problems which had blighted his career up to that point, and has spoken openly about the challenges he continues to face.

He has gradually turned his life around to the extent that, barring one ugly on-field incident with Blackburn midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen, which cost him a three-match ban, he has stayed out of trouble in recent times.

Indeed, last season saw him return to the kind of form which won him his one and only England cap as he helped Newcastle retain their top-flight status in some comfort.

Barton, a £5.8million signing from Manchester City during the summer of 2007, is in contract limbo having been told he will not be offered a new deal after failing to agree terms in January. His current deal runs out next summer.

Ranger, who has been linked with both Blackpool and QPR in recent days, has tried to put his past behind him too, although his efforts on the pitch are yet to win him the recognition he craves.

Newcastle will play three games during their trip, against Sporting Kansas on Wednesday, July 20, Orlando City three days later and Columbus Crew on Tuesday, July 26.

Barton - who will captain the club in their opening friendly at Darlington on Friday night in the absence of new skipper Fabricio Coloccini - and Ranger will instead work towards match fitness in the second string's clashes with Hollandia, FC Utrecht and Almere City.

Meanwhile, sources on Tyneside have insisted that reports suggesting Chelsea have made contact with the Magpies over Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote are incorrect.

Tiote has been a major hit at St James' Park since making a £3.5million switch from Dutch side FC Twente last summer, and he signed a new six-and-a-half-year contract in February with a series of clubs looking on jealously.

The denials, however, may do little to ease the fears of fans who saw Andy Carroll depart for Liverpool in January despite Pardew's repeated insistence that he was not for sale.

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