Celtic chief executive: 'Joey Barton wanted to join us'

Celtic FC chief executive Peter Lawwell during a press conference in Seoul on December 21, 2009
© Getty Images
Peter Lawwell dismisses claims from Joey Barton that Celtic made moves to sign the midfielder before he joined Rangers, instead suggesting that it was the other way round.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has dismissed Joey Barton's claims that he tried to hijack the midfielder's move to Rangers, claiming that it was in fact Barton who wanted to join the Scottish champions.

Barton claims in his forthcoming autobiography, No Nonsense, that an agent working on behalf of Lawwell approached him for signing talks in the summer.

The Hoops CEO has disputed that version of events, issuing a statement which read: "I think Joey's been had by a bit of a matchmaker here.

"I remember it well, we had just announced Brendan [Rodgers] as our new manager and I was with our company secretary in London at the time.

"An agent called me saying that Joey was going to sign for Rangers but he would really prefer to come to Celtic and were we interested in signing him, but it wasn't something we wanted to pursue.

"These things happen to players sometimes in football, but needless to say we wish Joey well at his new club."

Barton is currently suspended at Ibrox for three weeks following a training-ground altercation with teammate Andy Halliday and is also under investigation for allegedly breaking football betting rules.

This picture shows a general view of Ibrox Stadium ahead of the Scottish League Cup match between Rangers and Inverness in Glasgow on September 16, 2014
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