Scottish football news: Lennon's Celtic statement, Levein on future, player exits announced

A round-up of the top Scottish football stories on Monday evening

Lennon back in management

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been appointed head coach of Rapid Bucharest. Rapid finished sixth in the Romanian top flight following their final match on Sunday. Lennon recently came close to becoming manager of Republic of Ireland and returns to coaching after an 18-month hiatus. The 52-year-old led Omonia Nicosia to Cypriot Cup success in 2022 and then the Europa League group stage. Quoted on Rapid’s website, Lennon said: “I hope to create a strong connection between myself and the fans, but that comes with getting positive results and performing. It is my responsibility. I know they are very passionate supporters who love the club. They are similar to Celtic fans.” Co-owner Dan Sucu believes the arrival of Lennon will bring new discipline to the team. “He comes from a soccer culture, the Anglo-Saxon one, based on seriousness, work, success,” he said on the club’s website. “A culture where decisions, once made, are no longer commented on or negotiated, but simply implemented."

County ready for play-offs

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon is back in management with Rapid Bucharest.Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon is back in management with Rapid Bucharest.
Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon is back in management with Rapid Bucharest.

Ross County manager Don Cowie wants his players to summon the spirit of last season’s great escape after they were sucked into another relegation play-off. A 2-2 draw with Aberdeen on Sunday, coupled with St Johnstone’s 2-1 win at Motherwell, consigned County to a two-legged clash with Raith Rovers to decide who will compete in the cinch Premiership next season. “It’s a team that is going to be really confident,” Cowie said in a club video. “They finished second in the league and pushed Dundee United all the way. I watched the game on Friday night. It’s going to be a big crowd, a big atmosphere, which I’m sure they will looking to take advantage of. We need to be ready for that. I have still got so much belief in this group of players. We know we are going to have to perform really well to get through the two legs. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s one I certainly feel we are up to. The feelings that we have from last year, from the group that was here, we can draw on that and take it into the games.”

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Levein is up for challenge

Craig Levein declared himself ready for the challenge of leading St Johnstone again next season even though he admits recent uncertainty over which league they would be playing in has left him “miles behind” in terms of squad building. Saints climbed out of the bottom two to secure their top-flight survival in a dramatic conclusion to the cinch Premiership campaign on Sunday as their 2-1 victory at Motherwell coincided with rivals Ross County being held to a 2-2 draw by 10-man Aberdeen. Despite the gruelling, pressured nature of the campaign just finished, Levein – contracted to Saints until the summer of 2026 – is adamant he still has the appetite to come back for more after his summer break. “Yeah, I’ve loved it, it’s been great,” he said. There’s a lot of work to do and it will take a bit of time, but there’s enough encouragement for me from the players we have signed up for next season to look forward to coming back. I’ll have a break, a few glasses of wine and be ready to go again.”

Captain to leave after relegation

St Johnstone manager Craig Levein is up for the fight next season.St Johnstone manager Craig Levein is up for the fight next season.
St Johnstone manager Craig Levein is up for the fight next season.

Relegated Livingston have announced the departure of captain Michael Devlin while several other players have been put on the transfer list. Devlin recently declared his intention to stay on for next season in the Scottish Championship pending talks with manager David Martindale but the club have announced he would be leaving immediately because of an automatic relegation clause. Jason Holt is the only other player to be named on that list – Martindale previously confirmed the midfielder would be exercising his exit clause because of the difference in wages. Eight other players are definitely leaving after their contracts expire – Bruce Anderson, Morgan Boyes, Kurtis Guthrie, Jack Hamilton, Joel Nouble, Ayo Obileye, James Penrice and Andrew Shinnie – while Dan MacKay returns to Hibernian following his loan spell. January signing David Carson has been placed on the transfer list along with Mo Sangare and Miles Welch-Hayes while former Hibs winger Stephen Bradley has asked for a transfer.

Dundee exits announced

Dundee have announced the departures of Tyler French, Shaun Byrne and Jack Wilkie. All three have been on loan at other clubs this season. French played 35 times for Morton, Byrne is in the midst of a promotion play-off campaign with Raith Rovers and Wilkie spent the first half of the campaign with Edinburgh City. Dundee have 21 first-team players signed up for next season including Ricki Lamie, who agreed a pre-contract deal during his loan spell from Motherwell. Ten other loan players have returned to their parent clubs – Owen Dodgson, Amadou Bakayoko, Zach Robinson, Ryan Howley, Jon McCracken, Malachi Boateng, Aaron Donnelly, Michael Mellon, Dara Costelloe and Owen Beck.

Partick pay tribute to ex-manager

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - MAY 19: Livingston's Michael Devlin will leave AlmondvaleLIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - MAY 19: Livingston's Michael Devlin will leave Almondvale
LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - MAY 19: Livingston's Michael Devlin will leave Almondvale

Partick Thistle have paid tribute to the “magnificent” contribution Gerry Collins made to the club after their former player, assistant manager and manager died at the age of 69. Collins also played for Albion Rovers, Ayr and Hamilton but was better known as being assistant to John Lambie in a management duo revered by Thistle fans. The cinch Championship club said in a tribute on their website: “Gerry’s tight network of close family and friends are in our thoughts while they deal with the pain and sadness of the great man’s passing after a long battle with illness. That Gerry fought so bravely for so long defied the odds but would be no surprise to anyone who knew him, an individual known more than anything for his battling spirit.”

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