Celtic boss Neil Lennon keen to help Steve Clarke ahead of Euro play-offs

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is in favour of a meeting between Celtic and Rangers on the one side and the chief executives of the SPFL and the SFA on the other to discuss ways to enhance those clubs’ prospects of progressing in Europe.

Neil Lennon is keen to help the Scotland national side. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
Neil Lennon is keen to help the Scotland national side. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

Rangers’ Steven Gerrard claimed last week that Premiership clubs should not be asked to play Europa League ties away from home on a Thursday evening and then report for domestic action on a Sunday lunchtime.

Lennon agrees with his rival in that regard but argues that it is more important that the authorities and broadcasters listen to Scotland manager Steve Clarke, who has requested that there are no Sunday fixtures scheduled for the Sundays preceding the Euro 2020 play-off matches in March.

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“I’d be in favour of a sit-down, predominantly for the national team more than anything else,” he said.

“Steve should get what he wants because the national team is a priority and these play-offs coming up are probably the most important games Scotland have had [since the Euro 2004 play-off against Netherlands] so the authorities should give him whatever he wants and needs for those games.”

The Glasgow giants’ victories over Lazio and Porto on Thursday lifted Scotland into 16th placed in Uefa’s coefficient table, just one position away from the all important top 15. Reaching 15th place would see the Premiership’s top two clubs involved in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League in the season after next but Lennon appreciates that money talks when it comes to rearranging games.

“You’re battling with the TV companies as well because they want the early kick-offs,” he said. “You’re playing on a Thursday night and then you are in Aberdeen on Sunday for a 12.15 kick-off [last month]. Yeah, we played well and got a great result, but it’s still the players who have to go out and do the work and fatigue or injuries can cost you going forward.

“Sometimes, we need a little bit of help, there’s no question of that.”