Neil Lennon says he has been left “gobsmacked” by the five-match ban meted out by Uefa in the wake of his sending off against Brondby.
The Hibernian manager branded the ban “ridiculous”, claiming he was so shocked that he almost sprayed his drink over the club’s head of football operations, George Craig, when he broke the news of his punishment.
“I knew about the ban last week as George told me and I spat my coffee out. I could not believe it was a five game ban.
“It is just ridiculous and a piece of nonsense really.”
Uefa’s control, ethics and disciplinary body cited “acts of violence against the referee” as the reason for the lengthyban but, while Lennon admits remonstrating with the assistant referee, he denies any signs of aggression or violence were directed at the referee, who intervened to send him to the stand.
In his first competitive game in charge of the Easter Road side Hibs, Lennon was infuriated after Jason Cummings’ goal 30 minutes into the first leg was disallowed for offside, despite TV replays showing the striker was clearly onside. Hibs lost that leg and although they levelled the tie in Denmark, Brondby got the better of them on penalties, ending their European adventure.
At the time Lennon described his sending off as pathetic but the severity of the punishment has stunned Lennon and the club. He insists that being forced to spend the remainder of that first game, as well as the entire second leg exiled from the technical area in an automatic follow-on ban, should count as sufficient penance.
“We will appeal it and whether we win it, I don’t know,” he said. “The wording of the charge is ridiculous. It is difficult for me to comment on but we put a submission in at the time and that has obviously been ignored. We will go there and hopefully they will hear what we have to say.”
No date has yet been set for a hearing but Lennon says that he intends travelling to have his say when they do get the chance to plead their case.
“I will go in person as I think it is best to do that. I was gobsmacked by the ban and the game and a half that I served should be punishment enough without any additional games. I was thinking one at the most but five, to say it is excessive is an under-statement.”
It is not the first time the manager has been saddled with lengthy touchline bans, with Lennon appealing was handed a six-game ban – reduced to four on appeal – following a blow-up in a match against Hearts in 2010. The then Celtic manager was then handed another four-match ban following a bust-up with Ally McCoist after an Old Firm Scottish Cup fixture in 2011. Back then he was a rookie manager and he has often talked about the fact he has mellowed a lot since then but he now needs to convince the authorities of that.