Neil Lennon's Celtic Dubai comments branded 'absolutely appalling' by John Swinney

Scotland’s education secretary John Swinney has hit out at Neil Lennon after the Celtic manager claimed government criticism of the club’s trip to Dubai was motivated by politics.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been criticised by Scotland's education secretary John Swinney. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been criticised by Scotland's education secretary John Swinney. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Swinney branded the comments “appalling” and said he was “lost for words” following the Lennon’s explosive press conference on Monday, where the Parkhead boss accused the media and government of “hypocrisy” and that Celtic were being singled out for punishment after 13 players and three staff members, including Lennon himself, were ordered to self-isolate following defender Christopher Jullien’s positive Covid test.

Lennon added: "I'm not convinced they're a public health issue. [It] seems political in my opinion.”

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, SNP minister Swinney was asked to give his views on the comments.

“I'm at a loss for words, frankly," he said. "I said a few weeks ago I thought it was a really bad idea that Celtic decided to go to Dubai for this trip. I didn't think it was a particularly great signal. I have no ill-will towards Neil Lennon whatsoever but I think his comments in this respect have been absolutely appalling.”

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Celtic have been widely criticised for travelling to the Middle East in the midst of tightening lockdown restrictions, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously raising concerns and calling on the SFA to investigate the training camp.

This led to an apology from the club's chief executive Peter Lawwell, accepting the trip was a “mistake”, however Lennon said: "My apology is to the fans because 13 players and 3 staff had to isolate for 10 days which is ludicrous. I’m not apologising for anything else.”

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