Neil Lennon hits back at Scott McDonald over failed Hibs deal

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has launched a withering attack on Scott McDonald and angrily contradicted the Motherwell striker's version of events regarding his aborted move to the Easter Road club last week.

Lennon accused McDonald of being economical with the truth. Picture: SNS

Lennon has been stung by his former Celtic team-mate McDonald’s claim that Hibs’ pursuit of his services did not reach the point of contractual terms being agreed. The 32-year-old opted instead to sign a new one-year deal with Motherwell.

But Lennon has accused McDonald of being disingenuous, insisting Hibs fully met the player’s financial demands.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Scott has been really economical with the truth,” said a clearly irritated Lennon. “First of all, we did not approach him. He approached Hibs. He approached me, saying he wanted to come here and work with me.

“So we put a package together and I spoke to him. Whilst not speaking verbally on the phone, there was contact by e-mail and text message and we made him an initial offer which I felt would fall short and it did.

“So we came back again and he said it was a bit short. Graeme Mathie, our head of recruitment, was negotiating with him and it got to the stage when it had gone on for three or four days, so I rang his agent.

“I asked what it would take to get the deal done and he told me. I then spoke to our chief executive Leeann Dempster and she said ‘yes we can do that’.

“That was last Tuesday and I got back to his representative and said we’ve agreed everything that you and the player want. I said I expected to see him at the training ground on Wednesday and he said that’s great.

“I came in on Wednesday and there was no sign of him.

“Graeme Mathie then told me Scott wanted to renegotiate and I said ‘No, the deal’s off’. I told Leeann and the staff the same, I told the agent to tell the player the deal is off and that’s the end of it.

“So you can imagine my surprise on the Friday when Scott comes out and says there was no interest from us and there wasn’t an obvious deal on the table, which is totally contrary to what we had been working on for four or five days.

“I don’t mind him gaining kudos with the Motherwell support, but certainly not at the expense of me and Hibs.

“On the Wednesday afternoon, I was having a meeting with my staff and he was ringing and texting, pleading to get the deal back on. We wouldn’t shift on it. Then we read all that nonsense on Friday.”

Lennon, pictured, added: “This is me putting the truth out there and that’s why I was livid with the way it came out on Friday.

“Basically, I got a text message from him saying we must have got our wires crossed, but I certainly didn’t have my wires crossed.

“I don’t feel personally let down but I didn’t like what I read on Friday. That was him covering his own back. We matched what he wanted, so there was a good offer on the table and there is only so far you can go. Either you want to come here or you don’t.

“As far as I was concerned, we agreed everything and then it moved again. That was enough. I wouldn’t be speaking about it now if I hadn’t read his comments on Friday.

“He could have handled it a lot better, but deals fall through all of the time. It happens, we have other options we are going to pursue.”