The Fleetwood Town manager, who used to play for Manchester City and Newcastle United, believes the women’s game would benefit from introducing smaller balls, pitches and goals.
His comments echo those of Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes, who suggested earlier this year that the size of the goals should be reduced to help compensate for the ‘physical differences’ between men and women.
England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley hit out at her comments, saying that such a change would harm the fight for equality, but Barton has now called for more extreme measures to be introduced.
The 37-year-old told the Football, Feminism & Everything in Between podcast: “It’s a different sport though really, in essence – women’s football should be adjusted for women, physiologically, biologically.
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“The goal sizes and the weight of the ball should be [changed].
“If we’re going to make women’s football better, as a spectator sport, to stand on its own in the marketplace, if you keep playing on the same size of pitches as men with the same size of football as men and men’s rules, you’re always going to have an inferior product – because men are bigger, stronger and faster than women.
“If you tailor it, women’s football could take a lot of strides tactically and technically – way beyond its current limitations.
“Let’s be realistic about it. The size of a football for men’s a size five, say we moved the size of a women’s football down to a size four, would anybody really notice the difference?
“No, but I guarantee you in terms of the physicality and the output, level of passes and the range of passes, some of the women players would then be able to do because the ball’s a bit smaller and the ball’s more suited to their physiological state.”
GIVEMESPORT’s Scott Wilson says:
Barton usually opens a can of worms whenever he opens his mouth and that’s the case once again.
His argument that women’s football could benefit from smaller goals is supported by various instances of goalkeeping incidents witnessed at the Women’s World Cup.
But then, the greatest player in the history of the men’s game stands at 5 ft 7 in, and there are no limitations placed on him.
Barton has expressed his opinion on how to improve the quality of women’s football.
Whether authorities in the women’s game believe that is necessary is another matter.