Neil Lennon has expressed regret over his reaction to being sent off during Hibs’ weekend match with Kilmarnock, but insisted he didn’t deserve to be given his marching orders, claiming his behaviour is no worse than other managers.
The Easter Road head coach landed two Scottish Football Association charges yesterday, one for misconduct and another for criticising match officials “in a manner which indicates bias or incompetence or impinges on their character”.
Lennon was livid when referee Kevin Clancy awarded the Rugby Park side a highly-debatable penalty and was seen sarcastically clapping in front of the official’s face as they confronted each other on the touchline.
However, Lennon was adamant the way he acted was nothing to do with the penalty decision – one which allowed Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd to level the score at 2-2 after Hibs had taken a two-goal lead in the opening nine minutes – but rather the result of the actions of fourth official Gavin Ross, who he described as being “over-zealous and over-officious”, in advising Clancy to send him to the stand.
In his post-match press conference Lennon accused Clancy of incompetence and conducting a vendetta against him after he had criticised the same referee for not awarding Hibs a spot-kick during a match with Rangers at Easter Road on December. He went on to describe refereeing in Scotland as “amateurish and Mickey Mouse”.
Lennon admitted he was not surprised to find himself facing two chargesbrought by the SFA’s compliance officer Tony McGlennan but insisted he will go to the principal disciplinary hearing at Hampden on 15 March to fight his corner.
“In the main, they are pretty fair,” said Lennon. “They allow you to state your case so that’s what we will do as best we can and take it from there. I’d like to think I’d get an explanation – it will probably be in the referee’s report.
“I will debate it as vigorously as possible because my behaviour was not any different to any other manager up and down the country every weekend. I shouldn’t even be talking about my behaviour. My behaviour has been really good. I sound like a schoolboy here compared to a lot of other managers and what I have seen.”
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke later suggested match officials should be supported and encouraged, leading Lennon to say: “I get that. We have had 28 league games this season and I would say in 23 or 24 of them I have gone to the delegate and said ‘you know what, he’s had a really good game, the officials were excellent’.
“None of that ever gets