Joey Barton makes bizarre refereeing claim in verdict on Sunderland defeat
Joey Barton claimed poor officiating is 'destroying the game' after his side were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland on Saturday.
Barton and the vocal Bristol Rovers presence at the Memorial Ground on Saturday were left incensed when Luke O'Nien as fouled by Brandan Hanlan in stoppage time, claiming the decision should have gone the other way.
Sunderland created the better of the chances throughout the game to leave Barton's side second bottom of the table with eight matches left to play.
"Obviously there’s disappointment in losing and not picking up any points in another game, but there were lots of pleasing things that we can take moving forward," Barton said.
“With a bit of better refereeing and with referees making the correct calls we probably would’ve drawn the game because we’ve had a stonewall penalty, which for some odd reason was given as a free-kick to them.
"My mind boggles with the officials at the minute, it feels like there’s an agenda somewhere and we can’t have had 10 bad officials at the level we’ve had. They’ve been really, really poor and again on Tuesday night we had another legitimate goal ruled out which cost us three points.
"Today, we’ve had a penalty given as a free-kick for them, which has cost us another point so, what can I do? I want to say to you how I really feel, but that will get me suspended and fined because they come down on you like a tonne of bricks.
"They’re making poor decisions and are costing us four points this week. Nothing will be done though, they’ll go back to their jobs on Monday, but it really is destroying the game.
“It’s soul-destroying, you work hard all week for your team to have the best chance of performing and then officials aren’t able to officiate correctly and cost you key points at pivotal moments.”
Barton had blasted the work of his two predecessors in the build-up to the game and criticised his forward line after a fourth consecutive defeat.
“We can’t keep giving goals away in the manner we are, especially in the first period before that goal," Barton said.
“We have a very good Sunderland side virtually nothing. But at this moment in time the front lads just aren’t putting the ball away or creating enough chances.
“If they are creating enough chances, they’re snatching at them, which is a confidence issue and we can’t do anything for them on the training pitch. That’s a case of settling down and becoming the footballer that everyone believes you can be.
“We’ve got some good signs in there but you know, you live and die on you if recruitment.
"No matter how good of a coach I am and I think I’m at a level where I can certainly get out of League One, I came in February-time and you’re trying to get the best out of other peoples’ players and that’s the reality."
Barton overnight became the favourite with the bookmakers for the vacant job at Preston North End.