Pat Fenlon criticises ‘ludicrous’ Lennon charge

HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon last night defended Neil Lennon in the strongest terms, saying the SFA’s decision to charge the Celtic boss for swearing was “absolutely ludicrous”.

The Irishman, whose team play at Parkhead tomorrow, argued that a degree of abusive language had always been a part of football and that attempts to punish managers for swearing on the touchline were seriously misguided.

“If we were [punished], there would be no-one left,” Fenlon said. “I think that one with Neil is absolutely ludicrous, I really do. If that’s a case to be answered, we’re all in serious, serious trouble every week.

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“It’s part of the game, it’s banter. It’s players striving and managers striving. We’re going to ruin the game if we keep going the way we’re going, to be honest with you.

“Players swear at managers, managers swear at players. That’s been going on since the day dot of football. How far do you want to take this? To think that a manager could get banned for that is crazy.”

Fenlon argued that if the Lennon case did set a precedent and managers continued to be charged for such misdemeanours, they would end up taking a vow of silence in a bid to protect themselves. “It will get to the stage where managers will be afraid to say anything – and that means coming into press conferences, at games, anything.

“It’s going to get to the stage where you think ‘What’s the point?’ Because everything we say will get picked out and we’ll get hammered for it.

“They’ll take out the bits that they want in order to go after managers. It’s going to cause more problems than anything else.

“You might find yourself having to step away from a microphone – or volleying it away. You’d probably get in trouble for that as well. It’s another thing to worry about.

“This is all part and parcel of football. Most supporters like to see their managers show a bit of passion. Okay, I heard it and it was quite funny at the time. But Jim Goodwin isn’t bothered – because he’s used to it.

“I just think it’s a poor decision if they go down that road. It will lead to bigger problems.”