Joey Barton has been cleared of pushing over a rival manager at the end of a match, leaving him bloodied and with a broken tooth.
Barton, now in charge of Bristol Rovers, was Fleetwood Town manager at the time of the alleged incident at Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium in April 2019.
When the former Premier League footballer gave evidence last week, he denied it was him who shoved then-Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel after a League One match.
Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court took less than two hours to find Barton not guilty of one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm following a week-long trial.
Mr Stendel told a jury how he was walking down the tunnel in the corner of the stadium after his team’s 4-2 victory when he was pushed from behind, causing him to fall over and hit his face on the metal structure and breaking his tooth.
Video footage which was shown repeatedly during the trial showed Mr Stendel entering the tunnel closely followed by Barton, who was jogging.
After leaving the court, Barton said: “I think the verdict speaks for itself.”
When asked how he felt, he told reporters: “Better than I did before.”
Barton left the building with his solicitor, who said his client did not wish to comment.
The altercation allegedly happened after a second half which featured tensions between the coaching staff of the two sides, with Fleetwood Town’s assistant manager, Clint Hill, receiving a yellow card.
The 10-person jury was also shown mobile phone footage of the two managers shaking hands at the end of the match – during which Mr Stendel claimed Barton was aggressive towards him.
Barton denies the claim he was aggressive but admitted using “industrial language” during the handshake, adding there had not been tensions between the two managers during the match.
He told the court he had just tried to warn Mr Stendel that if his club did not control their coaching staff, they might be personally liable to substantial fines from the league.
Barton highlighted that he began to jog because he wanted to get into the dressing room ahead of his players and that the video footage showed him weaving through the crowded tunnel towards the stand.
Barton stood in the dock for the verdict wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and dark tie. Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told him he could leave the court immediately following the verdict.