Joey Barton arrives at court for trial over 'assault on Barnsley boss'

Ex-Premier League star Joey Barton ‘shoved a rival manager and left him with a smashed tooth and nerve damage after telling him ”not to celebrate his goals so much”’, court hears

  • Joey Barton arrived at court today over alleged assault on a fellow manager
  • He is accused of pushing the then Barnsley manager, Daniel Stendel, in 2019 
  • Barton has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm 

Former Premier League star Joey Barton was ‘worked up’ before he launched a tunnel attack on a rival manager who he had told to ‘not to celebrate his goals so much’, a court heard.

Barton, who was manager of Fleetwood Town at the time, is accused of assaulting the then Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel after a match in April, 2019.

The 38-year-old allegedly pushed Mr Stendel in the tunnel of Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium following the team’s League One clash, which the home side won 4-2.

The force of the push, the prosecution claim, caused the German manager to fall forwards and hit a tunnel structure, leaving him with injuries to his mouth including a smashed tooth and nerve damage.

Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court that Barton had approached Stendel’s technical area and although his English is limited he believed the defendant had told him ‘not to celebrate his goals so much’ and seemed ‘angry and confrontational’.

At the end of the game, the pair had shook hands but Barton was ‘still very worked-up and used foul language’ towards Mr Stendel, Mr Goldsack said.

The court was told that, as Mr Stendel walked through the tunnel, the defendant ran past a number of people and entered the tunnel behind him.

Joey Barton is pictured left arriving at Sheffield Crown Court where he is charged with causing actual bodily harm to the then Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel (right) in April 2019

Mr Goldsack added: ‘Mr Stendel felt a push from behind and fell forward, hitting his face against that tunnel structure. He was knocked to the ground and when he looked up he saw the defendant passing him. He believed him to be responsible for what happened.’

The prosecutor outlined tensions between the two sides at a previous fixture earlier in the same season, also won by Barnsley.

He told the jury: ‘Football is a sport which can arouse great passion. Clearly there was some history to this fixture, with some degree of antagonism on the previous occasion.

‘And Mr Barton’s mood was perhaps not helped by that previous defeat; by having a player sent off just after it looked as though Fleetwood might get back in the game; by Barnsley extending its lead with a third goal, prompting provocative celebrations by (Barnsley first team coach) Christopher Stern; and by the defeat that came with the final whistle.’

Mr Goldsack added: ‘Perhaps his anger hadn’t subsided from their exchange moments before at the pitchside. Perhaps the temptation was too great.

‘But the prosecution say you can be sure it was Mr Barton whose actions were responsible for Mr Stendal’s loss of balance, going forwards, suffering the injuries that you have seen and that he is guilty of unlawful assault as set out in your indictment.’

He showed the jury photographs of injuries sustained by Daniel Stendel, saying the most serious were to his mouth, including an upper right incisor tooth being moved out of the bone, with some associated nerve damage.

The prosecutor said the issue the jury had to decide is ‘whether Mr Stendel fell forwards in that tunnel area, colliding with the tunnel structure and thereby sustaining those injuries, as the result of an unlawful assault and, if he did, whether it was Mr Barton who is responsible for that assault’.

The prosecutor told Sheffield Crown Court it was ‘unlikely’ there would be any dispute that Mr Stendel suffered injuries that amounted to actual bodily harm, and the issues are likely to be whether Mr Stendel fell forwards as the result of an unlawful assault, and if so, whether Barton was responsible.    

He said there had been a ‘fraying of tempers and raised temperatures’ between the respective dugouts at the reverse fixture between the two sides the previous September.

The Barnsley First Team Coach, Christopher Stern, had been booked by the referee for protesting about an incident on the pitch and after the game Barton shook Mr Stendel’s hand ‘extremely firmly and for a prolonged period’ in what he took to be an ‘intimidatory gesture.’

2019: Barnsley’s Daniel Stendel shakes hands at full time with Fleetwood manager Joey Barton

In the second fixture, Mr Goldsack said an exuberant goal celebration by Barnsley Coach Christopher Stern had caused ‘upset’ to the Fleetwood bench.

Mr Goldsack said Barton had approached Stendel’s technical area and although his English is limited he believed the defendant had told him ‘not to celebrate his goals so much’.  

Mr Stendel went to clap the home fans before walking off down the tunnel, the court was told. 

Mr Goldsack said: ‘As Mr Stendel walked through the tunnel, the defendant ran past a number of people that were cluttering up the tunnel.

‘Mr Stendel felt a push from behind and fell forward, hitting his face against part of the tunnel structure.

‘He was knocked to the ground but looked up and saw Mr Barton passing him and believed he was responsible.

‘Mr Barton made no apology, and did nothing to acknowledge what had taken place.’

Mr Goldsack said the only other witness to the attack was Barnsley First Team Performance Analyst intern, Nathan Kirby who saw Barton push Mr Stendel from behind.

‘As it was described by Mr Kirby, it was a deliberate act, done with enough force to knock someone off-balance, which of course is precisely what happened,’ he said.

The court was shown video footage from the match which showed Barton in an angry exchange with Mr Stendel at the end of the match.

Mr Stendel enters the tunnel ahead of Barton, who is seen running down it and weaving around players and staff.

The tunnel then shakes and moments later Mr Stendel is seen being helped away with a bloody face.

The incident then sparks an angry confrontation between rival players and staff inside.

The prosecutor told the jury that, after his arrest, Barton provided a prepared statement in which he accepted using ‘industrial language’ on the touchline but denied barging into or assaulting Mr Stendel in the tunnel.

Barton, who is now Bristol Rovers manager, denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The jury has been told that Mr Stendel will give evidence by video link from Germany on Tuesday. 

Barton, who now manages Bristol Rovers, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court heard he gave a prepared statement when he was arrested by police in which he denied barging into or assaulting Mr Stendel, although he accepted he’d used ‘industrial language’ on the touchline.

He responded with ‘no comment’ to all questions put to him.

Ex-England international Barton retired from playing in 2018 and his former clubs include Manchester City, Newcastle and Burnley.

He joined Fleetwood Town, his first management role, in July 2018 but left the club in January.

He was appointed manager of Bristol Rovers the following month but he was unable to prevent his club being relegated to League Two.

The trial is expected to last five days.

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