CELTIC chief executive Peter Lawwell has described Rangers losing ten points for going into administration as “irrelevant” to the Parkhead club’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League title win.
The ailing Ibrox club’s automatic punishment by the SPL mid-February left them trailing their Old Firm rivals by 14 points. Celtic never looked back and Neil Lennon was able to enjoy his first title win as manager after a comprehensive 6-0 win at Kilmarnock on Saturday.
The ten-point advantage Celtic were handed has led to arguments and debate over a ‘tainted title’ but Lawwell is having none of it. Speaking yesterday, he said: “It is irrelevant.
“We are worthy champions – we thoroughly deserve it, there is no question we are the best team in Scotland.
“From our point of view we try to concentrate on our success rather than failings and failures elsewhere and I think that is the right thing to do.”
Lawwell had a special word of praise for Lennon, saying: “I am very proud of him, he thoroughly deserves what he has achieved, particularly what has happened to him over the last couple of years where the pressures off the field have been immense as well.
“He is a mentally strong character and I am delighted for him and his family.”
Lennon, meanwhile, is already looking ahead to next season and is targetting the group stages of the Champions League.
Celtic could end up with an SPL and William Hill Scottish Cup double – they play Hearts in the semi-final at Hampden next week – but their Europa League campaign was less successful, bringing only one win in eight games.
Lennon, though, believes his side have improved in the intervening months and, with a bit of bolstering, will be looking for them to get through their two Champions League qualifiers next season.
“We want to improve the club’s status in Europe if we can but again, that’s a hard thing to do,” said Lennon.
“But I think it is important, looking at the Champions League qualifiers, it will be important now to get into the group stages.
“We will have to look at the close-season programme and our pre-season and try to get a recipe to get that right for the qualifiers because it would enhance the season no end and give these players a huge shot in the arm in terms of their own development.
“There’s no doubt we have to trim the squad a little bit, we will look to do that and maybe enhance the squad with two or three players of undoubted quality.
“But that’s for the future, for the here and now I am delighted for the supporters, they have been behind this team since I took over.”
Saturday at Rugby Park was an afternoon of stark contrast to Celtic’s visit to Rugby Park on 15 October last year. Lennon had considered his future going in to the dressing room at the interval 3-0 down before his side rallied in the second half to grab a draw which kept them on the coat tails of then leaders, Rangers.
Lennon added: “Football is unpredictable and nothing surprises me. I always believed in the team and always felt we would find our consistency.”