Although he's been rather notorious in the past and we've seen this kind of behavior from Joey Barton before, a new extreme has been reached.
On Sunday against Manchester City, Barton was sent off for an elbow to the jaw of Carlos Tevez, and followed it up by kicking Sergio Aguero from behind and arguing with Mario Balotelli while being restrained:
Joey Barton, having already been sent off, kicks Sergio Aguero and then scuffles with Mario Balotelli as he is led off.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 13, 2012
Certainly an interesting and unprofessional scene took place, which unfortunately is common with Barton.
The Football Association must take drastic measures toward this situation because failing to do so will only put it under fire. Barton's actions not only put himself at risk, but his teammates and opponents as well.
It'll be quite surprising if the FA doesn't bring the hammer down—we're talking a suspension for numerous games—because a message must be sent to the rest of the association.
We're seeing this happen in the NFL time and time again with commissioner Roger Goodell slamming players for violations on and off the field. The FA has to mirror that kind of punishment on Barton because the integrity of the game will take a steep hit if proper action isn't given.
In addition, there's now added pressure on Barton's teammates to perform and act as professionals in a rough situation. This kind of behavior increases the risk of injury to anyone and regardless of sport, there's no place for it.
The aftermath of these reactions will be interesting, seeing as he is QPR's captain and the message he sent to fans today. With the downside being much of his notoriety coming from his on- and off-the-field antics (mainly a loudmouth), Barton's career has only stooped to a new low.
So, unfortunately, Barton's performance on the field gets overlooked by previous violations and the FA has to make his most recent the last straw.