JOEY Barton’s long ban for breaching the Football Association’s rules on betting this week has again brought the issue of gambling in sport to the forefront of the public eye.

Barton concedes he was in the wrong placing more than 1,200 bets on football over a 10-year period, albeit he is appealing the severity of the ban.

The Liverpudlian admits he has a gambling addiction and he is not the first in the game to suffer from such problems.

Many fans of my generation will remember Paul Merson breaking down at a press conference in 1995 for his addictions – including gambling – after they engulfed him to an extreme point.

Former arsenal team-mate Tony Adams had similar issues around the same time and after accepting his problems, got involved in launching the Sporting Chance clinic for sportsmen and women struggling to cope with their demons.

That was 17 years ago and after so much great work, there is sadly still a need for such havens where counselling and therapy can help those who need help.

While new betting rules try to clamp down on players gambling on their own sport, like alcoholism there will always be those who cannot stop without help.

The Professional Footballers’ Association has improved its educational programmes for players greatly in recent years but I still think more could be done.

The huge salaries top players earn in modern times means they have so much disposable income that some may struggle with what to do with it.

Once you have the comfortable home, top-of-the-range car and maybe even invested in property or race horses, what is there to spend the money on?

I remember watching a documentary some years back about the Sporting Chance clinic and one former player said that once training had finished around 1pm, with no wife or children he had little to occupy himself other than a visit to the bookies in the afternoon.

Like in any walk of life, there will be those tempted more than others and that is where the need for help comes in.

It doesn’t help, in my opinion, that so much of the footballing industry is intertwined with betting companies and sponsorship.

Maybe those companies that encourage people to gamble responsibly should be made to inject more money to help drives to treat those who get addicted.

Anything that boosts awareness can only help the next generation.