Neil Lennon slams Scottish government for "double standards" in Covid treatment of Celtic and Rangers

Neil Lennon has accused the Scottish government of “bewildering” “double standards” over Covid-19 breaches from Scottish footballers – the Celtic manager citing the contrasting reactions to the attendance at a house party by Rangers players Jordan Jones and George Edmundson and Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli’s unauthorised trip to Spain in August.

Neil Lennon has been left unhappy by "unacceptable" different treatment of players from Celtic and Rangers over Covid-19 rule breaking (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The Ibrox club suspended the pair for two weeks after they were fined by police and told to self-isolate for 14 days when a gathering at a flat in Glasgow’s west end was broken up in the early hours of Monday morning. Following these actions a spokesperson for the Scottish government said in a statement that “players maintain the sporting bubble by not compromising any of these things when away from the heavy regulated training or match environment, and we expect clubs and their staff and players to fulfil their responsibilities and apply all of these measures rigorously. We commend Rangers for taking such swift and decisive action in this instance, to protect the rest of their squad and wider public.”

The measured tones of the statement were wholly different to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s comments subsequent to Bolingoli’s overnight in Spain - which came on the back of eight Aberdeen players having failed to follow rules on social distancing and household mixing on a visit to a city centre bar - three months ago. Then, the footballers were berated - despite Celtic banishing Bolingoli from the club, before he was later sent on loan to Turkish club İstanbul Başakşehir.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

“This is just not acceptable,” Sturgeon then said. "Every day I stand here and ask members of the public to make huge sacrifices on how they live their lives. The vast majority are doing that and it's not easy. We can't have privileged football players just deciding that they are not going to bother. This can't go on. Consider today the yellow card [for football]. The next time it will be the red card because you will leave us with absolutely no choice."

Lennon said the divergence in the rhetoric from the Scottish government in the two cases was “unacceptable”. “I can’t comment on what the Rangers boys did,” the Celtic manager said. “What I can comment on is the reaction from the government, which I find bewildering. Considering the way they treated us after the Bolingoli incident. There seems to be double standards at the minute, as far as we’re concerned.

“You’d need to ask the government [if they were making amends for being so hard on Scottish football in August]. For the spokesperson [to say what they did] … I found it strange to say the least. We as a club did, and I’m sure our supporters did as well. I’m not happy about it. We were thrown under the bus. We were subjected to ‘privileged footballers’, ‘yellow card’ and blah, blah, blah. We have been treated in one way and other clubs have been treated another by the government, and that’s unacceptable from our point of view.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.