Lennon 'considers future' at Celtic after nail bomb hoax

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NEIL Lennon is "likely to consider" his future as Celtic manager at the end of the season after being the target of a hoax nail bomb threat.

After the firebrand Celtic boss chose not to attend a pre-match press conference yesterday, his assistant, Alan Thompson, admitted that the former Northern Ireland international is considering quitting the club.

A suspicious package, which was addressed to Lennon, was discovered in a post box in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, and taken to a local delivery office.

The package was found to contain nails, but no explosives.

Lennon stopped playing for his country after similar threats.

His family home is under 24-hour surveillance and was accompanied to training by a security guard yesterday, as he prepared his players for today's game against Hamilton at Celtic Park.

The nail bomb hoax incedent was condemned by all sides of Scottish football last night.

Peter Lawwell, chief executive of Celtic, said: "No-one in any walk of life should have to live their life in this way", and the former Scottish international Pat Nevin said he "would not blame" Lennon if he walked away from Scottish football.

Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie said it was "another indication of the emotional poison" affecting some elements of Scottish football.

Thompson, who signed for Celtic in the same year as Lennon and frequently played alongside him, said the manager had apologised to the club for his touchline clash with the Rangers assistant manager, Ally McCoist, at the end of Wednesday's Scottish Cup fifth-round replay.

"Neil apologised to the board regarding the events after the game on Wednesday night, and the board have accepted that," he said.

"From our point of view, that's finished"

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Asked why Lennon was not at the press conference, he said: "Neil had a lot on his plate in the last couple of days, and he thought it was right to stand out the way for a day or two.

"He has had 24-hour surveillance outside his house two days in a row protecting him and his family. I spend a lot of time with him at work and away from work and I know how difficult it is for his family in Scotland and in Ireland."

Lawwell said: "Clearly, this most recent sickening event in a long line of threats to Neil and his family is extremely worrying."

He added: "While the authorities and other commentators have taken a close interest in recent football events, we would hope they would give similar attention to also condemning such actions."

Elsewhere, there was sympathy for Lennon mixed with concern about a return to the bad old days of sectarian violence.

Nevin said: "I wouldn't blame Lennon, whatever action he took.

"When I left Glasgow to go to England I was saddened by the state of sectarianism. I came back 13 years later and was stunned by how little it had changed.

"However, since then I think it has improved noticeably - until the last year or two.

"Something happened which has brought back the idiots."

Aberdeen manager Craig Brown added: "He (Lennon] is a strong personality and a strong character. It would be a sad indictment on the game of football and the country if a manager has to consider resigning because of behaviour like that."

Harvie, who successfully brought legislation in parliament tackling hate crime, said: "I hope police have something to go on and can crack down on whoever is responsible."

The box was discovered in Saltcoats yesterday morning. The delivery office was evacuated, police were called and it was established as a hoax.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "A suspect package was found this morning in a post box. It was taken to the delivery office in Saltcoats and the police were alerted immediately.

"The premises have since reopened and the package has been taken away for further investigation by the police."

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that we are currently investigating a suspicious package. The package was examined and the incident is being treated as a hoax. Police inquiries are on going."