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Nike drops Joey Barton from sponsorship deal

LONDON - Sportswear giant Nike has terminated its sponsorship deal with troubled Joey Barton, the Newcastle United Premiership footballer who recently completed a jail term for assault.

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Nike made the decision to dispense with Barton, whose two-year boot contract with the company is believed to have been worth £40,000 a year, when he was imprisoned for assault in May.

Leo Sandino-Taylor, a Nike spokesman, said: "While Joey Barton is a talented footballer, we cannot condone or accept what he did and his contract has been terminated.

"We have provisions in all our sponsorship contracts to take into account any actions by athletes that bring the brand into disrepute."

Barton served 74 days of a six-month sentence after being jailed following an incident in Liverpool city centre in December 2007 where he punched one man 20 times and left a teenage boy with broken teeth.

He was also given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo during a training session last year.

Nike's tough stance contrasts with Newcastle United's treatment of the midfielder, who have stood by Barton and reportedly decided against enforcing him to take a cut on his £57,000-a-week pay.

The Premier League have said that the 25-year-old will be given the chance to rebuild his football career at St James' Park.

A statement issued by the club yesterday said: "Newcastle United officials can confirm they have met with Joey Barton today, following which it has been agreed by everyone involved that Joey will remain with the club.

"The club will not be making any further comment at this time."

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