Burnley forward Ashley Barnes has said he thinks referees “want us gone” from the Premier League due to perceptions of the club’s playing style.
The Lancashire club have been in the top division since 2016, but this season is the closest in six years that the team have come to being relegated.
They are 17th, and only clear of Leeds United on goal difference.
Survival will be guaranteed if they beat Newcastle at Turf Moor on Sunday, or if they match or better Leeds’ result.
However, 32-year-old Barnes, who has been at the club throughout their Premier League spell, believes that referees want to see them return to the Championship.
“In recent seasons people look at us and think we’re a hard team, being ugly,” he said.
“No disrespect, I think people, even referees, want us gone from the league.”
Burnley have recorded 67 yellow cards this season, the seventh-most in the league. An elbow from Barnes on Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings during their 1-1 draw on Thursday could have seen the Burnley player sent off.
Relegation rivals Leeds have broken the Premier League record for most yellow cards in a single season, earning 100 during 2021-22.
Barnes is confident that his side can pip Leeds to safety. “We’ve got it in our hands to win it at the weekend,” he said.
“We’ve got a good group, an experienced group who know how everything works in terms of game management in these situations and hopefully we can get it over the line.”
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