Celtic’s Neil Lennon blasts Hibs owner Ron Gordon for backing points deductions
Parkhead boss says it’s ‘nonsense’ to say the champions should forfeit games after Covid-19 breach
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has slammed Hibs owner Ron Gordon’s support for points deductions to be applied to clubs whose players breach Covid-19 protocols, describing it as “absolute nonsense”.
In the aftermath of Celtic full-back Boli Bolingoli’s illicit trip to Spain, which prompted the postponement of the Scottish champions’ Premiership games against St Mirren and Aberdeen, Easter Road chairman Gordon said he would not be opposed to fixtures being forfeited in such circumstances.
The SPFL have opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic and Aberdeen, the Pittodrie club also in the dock after eight of their squad breached Covid-19 guidelines with a city centre night out.
Those players – Jonny Hayes, Scott McKenna, Sam Cosgrove, Craig Bryson, Bruce Anderson, Dylan McGeouch, Matty Kennedy and Michael Devlin – and Bolingoli have been issued with separate disrepute charges by the Scottish FA which will be heard on 28 August.
But while he waits to learn what punishments will be issued, Lennon insists clubs should not pay the price for the actions of individuals with the docking of league points. The former Hibs manager also hinted he feels Gordon is guilty of hypocrisy, perhaps in reference to the failure in Covid-19 testing procedures which forced the Leith club to postpone a pre-season friendly against Ross County at short notice.
“It’s absolute nonsense,” said Lennon. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. It can [happen to
anyone] and it has done. It certainly could [be one of his players next]. We have to take a raincheck on that, I think.
“From what I’ve seen in this, the goalposts keep getting moved time and time again. We’ve made it pretty clear to the players and the staff and the people around the club what’s permitted and what’s not. Until that changes, we have to adhere to that.
“The forfeiting of points is certainly not on. People say the club should take responsibility and we have held our hands up. It was something that was outwith the club’s control. We have worked tirelessly at the forefront
of getting the game up and running.
“Yes, there is a bit of finger-pointing and a lot of hysteria surrounding it. But we have done all we can as a club to adhere to the protocol as best we can. It’s up to the players.”
Celtic return to action after their enforced lay-off when they play KR Reykjavik of Iceland in their Champions League first qualifying round tie at Parkhead on Tuesday night.
Bolingoli’s future, meanwhile, may become clearer at the end of the week with Celtic likely to try and move on the Belgian they signed from Rapid Vienna for £3 million last year.
“He’s still quarantined at home and that ends on Thursday,” said Lennon. “There haven’t been any bids for him that I’m aware of. We’ll assess what happens after the next few days. We’ll speak to [chief executive] Peter Lawwell and the board and make a club decision on that. But all our focus has been on Tuesday night.”
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