Joey Barton left ex-Barnsley manager with ‘nerve damage’ after tunnel scuffle

Joey Barton left a rival manager nursing a damaged tooth after pushing him over in the players' tunnel after a defeat, a jury heard.

The former England footballer allegedly shoved then-Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel (corr) causing him to fall forward and hit his face against the tunnel wall.

The blow dislodged an upper right incisor from the bone and left the German coach with nerve damage. The clash happened after Barnsley beat Barton's Fleetwood Town 4-2 in a League One match in April 2019.

Barton, 38, who now manages League Two club Bristol Rovers, denies assault causing actual bodily harm.

Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, said there had been between tension between the two clubs since the reverse fixture at Fleetwood earlier in the season – including a handshake between the two managers Stendel 'took to be an intimidatory gesture'.

During the return game Mr Goldsack said tempers flared when midfielder Cameron McGeehan gave Barnsley a 3-1 lead in the 70th minute shortly after a Fleetwood player had been sent off.

The goal was celebrated wildly by the Barnsley dug-out, the jury was told.

The prosecutor said: "At that point Mr Barton approached Mr Stendel’s technical area. Mr Stendel’s English is limited but he believed Mr Barton was telling him not to celebrate his goals so much.

"Mr Barton seemed angry and confrontational. Mr Stendel told him to return to his area.''

At the final whistle Barton was 'still very worked up and used some foul language' towards Stendel which he 'did not fully understand but realised he was being insulted'.

The prosecution said Barton ran past a number of people and entered the players' tunnel behind Stendel.

"Mr Stendel felt a push from behind and fell forward, hitting his face against that tunnel structure,'' Mr Goldsack said.

"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.

"It was a deliberate act, done with enough force to knock someone off-balance.''

Barton did not stop, apologise or acknowledge what had happened, the prosecutor said.

The jury was shown video footage of Barton running into the tunnel after Stendel and the structure shaking. A further clip showed a bloodied Stendel being helped back to the dressing room.

Mr Goldsack said: "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 and by the defeat that came with the final whistle.

"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 Stendel’s loss of balance, going forwards, suffering the injuries that you have seen, and that he is guilty of unlawful assault.''

The jury was told the only other witness to the tunnel incident was Barnsley’s performance analyst intern who said he saw how Barton 'pushed' Stendel from behind 'whilst continuing to jog forwards' and described it as a 'deliberate act'.

Mr Goldsack said after his arrest Barton accepted using 'industrial language' on the touchline but denied barging into or assaulting Stendel in the tunnel.

Former Manchester City, Newcastle United, Burnley, Rangers and QPR star Barton won one England cap before quitting to launch a football management career in 2018.

The trial continues.

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