Celtic boss Neil Lennon answers Dubai trip controversy after Scottish Government query

Neil Lennon has defended Celtic winter-training camp in Dubai after Nicola Sturgeon questioned whether the trip to the Middle East was necessary.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon at Glasgow Airport prior to their trip to Dubai. Picture: SNS
Celtic manager Neil Lennon at Glasgow Airport prior to their trip to Dubai. Picture: SNS

The Parkhead boss insists the time away is “really important” for his squad as they seek to have a strong second half to the campaign and that the players are working “tremendously hard” in order to achieve that goal.

Earlier on Tuesday, the First Minister called for the trip to be looked into by the football authorities as she wondered whether social-distancing measures were still in place following leaked photos online.

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However, Lennon has stressed that all Covid-19 precautions are in place and are being adhered to by the staff and players.

The Northern Irishman said: "We are sure the camp will be really important for us.

“It is the same format as previous years, obviously with one significant difference being the protocols in place for Covid, but we hope that we get the same lift from it and can go on another great run in the New Year as we did last season, that’s our real focus just now.

“As the club said yesterday, the camp was arranged some time ago, with the full consultation of the footballing authorities and given approval by the Scottish Government.

"Of course, we understand that we are in very unique and difficult times and there are now even tougher restrictions in place at home, but the camp is risk assessed and arranged in conjunction with Scottish football’s Joint Response Group.

“We have put in place all the appropriate protocols and we have undertaken the camp as we see the sporting benefits from it and hope it can do for us what it has done in the past.

“From the first day of camp yesterday and into today, the boys have been working tremendously hard as we always do on a camp which has served us so well over recent seasons.

"And that will be the format for the rest of the week, very tough, but productive and important sessions to get us ready for the second half of the season.”

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Celtic face Hibs next Monday after being granted a two-day postponement by the SPFL, much to the chagrin of the Easter Road side.

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