Joey Barton sets eyes on the Championship after committing to Bristol Rovers

Joey Barton wants to take Bristol Rovers to a division they haven’t played in for almost 30 years

Joey Barton says his ambition is to lead Bristol Rovers into the Championship after signing a new four-year deal.

Barton has today put pen-to-paper on a new contract that will keep him at the Memorial Stadium until the end of the 2025/26 season.

Having led the club to promotion - the first of his managerial career - the former Newcastle United midfielder is keen not to stand still and wants to get the club promoted again.

Asked about his ambitions for now and the future, he said: “To be as successful as we can. To put the club into the Championship which is the league we are currently in is the next challenge.

“It’s going to be difficult as there are some really big clubs in there who have got good teams and have managed to build their groups over the last few years.

“They will want to be successful as well but we will go in there full of confidence. We’re full of momentum and we’ve got some really good players at the club.”

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Rovers have not been in the second tier of English football since being relegated back in the 1992/1993 season.

The closest they have been returning to the Championship was a play-off final defeat to Neil Warnock’s Huddersfield Town back in May 1995.

A 10th-placed finish under Carrell Clarke in 2017 has been their best finish since then but now the Liverpudlian is keen to take the club even higher than then.

The ground work has already been put already with talisman Anthony Evans kickstarting a raft of contract renewals and new signings.

Rovers have exchanged transfer fees for Fleetwood Town’s Fleetwood Town">Jordan Rossiter and James Connolly of Cardiff City as the club begins to show their early ambitions for the upcoming campaign.

That is in addition to James Gibbons who has been prized away from League Two play-off winners, Port Vale on a free transfer.

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Commenting on his current squad, Barton said: “It’s a really nice balance of young hungry players along with that little bit of experience and nouse. We have got some good assets, we’ve converted some loans into assets in the summer.

“We’ve managed to convert our players out of contract into longer-term contracts. It’s not only me committing as a coach, that is the feel of everybody.

“Even the players want to come back and be a part of it. I think they can sense the momentum and the ambition that is building here.

“The ambition for all of us should be Championship football. We’re going up a league, the test gets bigger but we’ve got to continue the momentum as a football club.”

“We’ve made one or two additions to the group who are really good lads and we’re excited about what 2022 brings.”