Lee McCulloch Premiership gap comments criticised

NEIL Lennon has rebuffed Rangers captain Lee McCulloch’s claim that the gap between the Scottish Premiership and League One is marginal.

Neil Lennon says there is a gulf in standards between the Premiership and lower leagues. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Neil Lennon says there is a gulf in standards between the Premiership and lower leagues. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Ibrox club are runaway leaders of the third tier of Scottish football with 61 points out of a possible 63 so far.

However, Ally McCoist’s men have come in for occasional criticism for some of their performances which led to the former Scotland player saying: “Having played in the SPL myself before, I don’t think there’s that much of a gap between the top flight and League One.”

Ahead of Celtic’s trip to Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, where the visitors will try to extend their unbeaten league run to 22 games as they themselves stride away towards the title, the Hoops boss responded by saying:

“I can’t really draw a comparison between the two because I have never worked or played consistently at that level.

“But I would imagine the majority of the football people in the country would disagree with that point of view.

“Last season Queen of the South won that league (third tier) by a canter but haven’t made great inroads into the Championship this season so that would tell you that there is a gulf between League One and the Championship.

“It is the same with Partick Thistle, who won the league (second tier) last year quite well.

“I wouldn’t say they have struggled - but they have found it pretty difficult at times with the quality of the teams in the Scottish Premiership.”

Asked if he would like to put McCulloch’s theory to the test with a Scottish Cup meeting with Rangers this season, the former Celtic captain said: “I am not interested at all. If we get a First Division club then so be it.

“My agenda is to win as many games as I can in the league and try to go unbeaten and defend our cup. But whoever we draw is not really high in my priority list at the minute.”

Then asked why he believed McCulloch felt compelled to make the controversial comparison, the Northern Irishman said: “I don’t know the context of the comment and what the meaning was behind it.

“He has played in both those divisions so maybe there is some validity in what is saying but I would doubt it very much.”

‘big difference’

Celtic skipper Scott Brown was unimpressed by McCulloch’s comment, saying: “That’s up to him. I don’t know, I haven’t played in that league.

“If you come along and watch the game or watch them on telly, you will see there is a big difference.”

The Hoops midfielder admitted he would like to be drawn against their traditional rivals in the Scottish Cup.

“Yes, it would be nice to play Rangers,” he said. “It has been a good few seasons but we will have to see what happens.”

Lennon admitted he was no further forward in trying to persuade Georgios Samaras and Joe Ledley - both out of contract at the end of the season - to sign new deals.

He also batted back a number of names including Wolves forward Leigh Griffiths, Peterborough’s Lee Tomlin, Israeli striker Omer Damari and Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams whom the Parkhead have been linked with as “speculation”.

The Parkhead boss explained: “We have hit the buffers on a couple but are still working away trying to get players tied up before next week.”

Lennon revealed that striker Bahrudin Atajic and defender Stuart Findlay have joined Shrewsbury and Morton, respectively, on loan for the rest of the season.