Joey Barton thanks NUFC fans after joining QPR

JOEY Barton’s long-running contract dispute with Newcastle United finally ended after he joined Queens Park Rangers.

The midfielder has signed a four-year deal with the Loftus Road club after leaving on a free transfer.

Barton told of his “special relationship” with Newcastle’s fans in the wake of his controversial move to the newly-promoted club.

But there was a backlash from many supporters, Barton – who will earn £70,000-a-week at QPR – having claimed earlier in the summer he would only leave St James’s Park for Champions League football.

And anger was also directed at the club’s hierarchy, who withdrew the contract offer they made early in the year and declined to put another deal on the table despite his outstanding contribution last season.

For his part, Barton was hoping to make his debut at Wigan Athletic this afternoon.

If not, Barton’s first appearance will come after the international break against, ironically, United, who visit Loftus Road on September 12 in a televised clash.

On his relationship with Newcastle’s fans, Barton said on social networking site Twitter: “I will always have a special relationship with the Geordie nation but sadly they are not the decision makers at St James’s Park.

“I wish to thank each and everyone of them sincerely for their support.

“I am incredibly excited to be joining QPR at this pivotal time in their history and plan to give my all for the club.”

SEE Saturday’s Mail for full story ...