Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton takes a swipe at Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp over comments made on signing unvaccinated players.
The Anfield chief recently suggested that he wouldn’t want to sign any players who had not been vaccinated to reduce the risk of getting or spreading the virus.
The German labelled them a “constant threat” to his squad, with there a rise in Covid cases within football in recent weeks leading to mass postponements.
Now, former top flight player Barton has offered his typically blunt assessment of the situation.
Barton said: “Can I just say, on the record, I’ve seen managers – Liverpool, Man United – saying they won’t sign unvaccinated players.
“I’ll let you know we’ll definitely sign unvaccinated players. We just want good players.
“And I know there’s loads of conjecture about whether players are getting jabbed. For me you’ve got to be careful about telling people what to do. If lads don’t want to do it, they don’t want to do it.
“Most lads I know are doing it. But also there are some people who just don’t want to. And you have to respect that.
“We have to be mindful, there are going to be loads of good players who for whatever reason don’t want to take a chance, for whatever reason; their research and information they’ve garnered and the risk posed to them.
“I think it’s wrong for people to come out and say they wouldn’t do this, and they wouldn’t do that. Categorically, we just want to sign good players.
“Whether or not they’re vaccinated or not is their choice – like their religion, or sex, or whatever they choose to do. You’ve got to respect that and be careful not to pressurise players to do something they don’t want to do.
“They should come to that natural run of events, I don’t think it should be football managers coming out and pressurising young men into potentially life-changing decisions.”
Ironically, Barton’s side have seen their League Two game at Leyton Orient on New Year’s Day postponed due to Covid cases.
It is their fourth successive game to have been called off for this reason.
Confirmation only arrived at 10am on the day of the game, after the Pirates requested the cancellation.
EFL rules state that a game can go ahead should a team be able to field 14 players, including a goalkeeper.
A statement from Bristol Rovers, who have not played a fixture since December 11, said: “The club has had to take the decision in light of unforseen illnesses in the Rovers first-team squad this morning.
“Despite this extremely disappointing situation, we have continued to work hard within COVID-19 guidelines and only took this measure to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff.
“We understand that this late postponement will cause disruption and upset to our travelling fans and we can only further apologise for any issues caused.”
The EFL this week scrapped the on-the-day testing for players in a bid to try and halt last-minute postponements.
Social media users reacted as Joey Barton takes a swipe at Jurgen Klopp over comments on signing unvaccinated players…
@ideblad: Joey Barton has always been quite ret@rded tbh. I think it’s commendable that Rangnick, Klopp et. al make a stand against CoVid and selfishness.
@darrenrobs7: Just like it’s their choice to assault someone or not. Barton thinking he’s the moral compass of football is hilarious.
@lizzleinbrizzle: If I were him I’d focus on more important things…like his 2nd assault charge court case
@chrisparkes91: Mad how Joey still has a career in football.
@ROBERTC56107584: How can a yob. Of a player. Manager. And a guy who stubs out a cigarette in a youth players face even have the the cheack to call klopp. Crawl back under the stone you came from
@tom060220: Piss off Barton! Klopp has the right to say what he has said. Wether you agree or not is irrelevant! His reasons behind his choice makes sense! A very clear reason why Jurgen is managing Liverpool and you are where you are!
@JHMUFC88: Joey Barton is an idiot. Being unvaxxed makes you more like to be unavailable, why would any club want that? Similar to having a long injury history. If they dont want a vaccine, no worries but they wont be playing for United and that’s a good thing in my book.
@Proudy31589: @Joey7Barton attempting to be a fount of knowledge again. Shit manager, shit pundit, and shit footballer. Had to tell everyone who would listen that he was a hard man to make up for lack of ability.
@or84: Joey Barton gives off ‘semi famous boxer talking about covid stuff’ vibes.
@shepkennedy: @EFL surely there must be a time limit to call off a game because of Covid @Official_BRFC & @Joey7Barton a joke. A team should forfeit the game for leaving so late or be deducted points. @dannymacca81 & @leytonorientfc should be making a official complaint.
@TinnerSmith: He is absolutely spot on…..why should young fit healthy professionals take a vaccine for something they have virtually zero risk from, and that does not prevent you from catching/spreading……
@nittygnome: But it stops them doing their job they are being paid for and puts others at risk !! That’s why you need to be vaccinated in nhs and care homes. Some situations need it.
@TinnerSmith: So no different to a vaccinated person with Covid then…..the policy re NHS workers is madness, as demonstrated by the fact that this unvaccinated staff have worked throughout and continue to do so…