'I'd have Sunderland up by this point': Fleetwood boss Joey Barton makes stunning promotion claims
Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton has claimed that he would have been promoted already if he had been given the same budget as Sunderland boss Jack Ross.
The controversial former Newcastle United midfielder was appointed as manager at Highbury in the summer, and has the Cod Army in contention for a play-off place ahead of the season run-in.
But the 36-year-old believes his side would already be promoted if they had the same financial firepower as some of their divisional rivals - suggesting that only a 'select few' clubs have the resources to challenge for a push to the Championship.
And he singled out the Black Cats as an example, hinting that he believes he would have done a better job than Ross.
"We have not been able to recruit everybody we would want in the building," he admitted, speaking to Fleetwood Today.
"But we have a chance to shuffle the pack on that in the summer.
“We have some really key components already here with us. I think that is what has emerged this season whether or not we are successful and get promoted.
"That is for a select few. There are only so many that can do that.
“It is two (up) automatic and one by the play-offs. Everyone judges those sides as being successful but, let’s be honest, if I had Sunderland’s budget I’d have them up by this point."
It looks unlikely that Barton will clinch promotion this campaign - given his Fleetwood side sit eight points outside the top six - but he feels his side will be well-equipped to mount a promotion push.
And that's despite some of the experienced clubs likely to be playing the third tier next term, with the Cod Army chief believing the gap is shrinking.
“Look at Portsmouth, who played at Wembley on Sunday with 85,000 in the stadium," added Barton.
"It says a lot about what the clubs we are playing against have got on us.
“They have 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 years tradition, huge supporter bases and huge financial powers compared to clubs like us.
“Yeah, I think we will compete next year with whoever does not go up this year and whoever comes down. It looks like Ipswich and Bolton and another.
“I guarantee we will be a lot closer next year than we were this year.”
Barton will have a chance to prove his side's promotion credentials when they welcome Sunderland to Highbury in the penultimate League One fixture of the campaign on Tuesday, April 30.