Lennon says Celtic have the cash to see off rivals

Neil Lennon says the owners of rival clubs are too astute to spend big money chasing Celtic. Picture: Jane Barlow
Neil Lennon says the owners of rival clubs are too astute to spend big money chasing Celtic. Picture: Jane Barlow
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NEIL LENNON has expressed his scepticism about potential fresh investment at Aberdeen and Rangers aimed at challenging Celtic’s current dominance of Scottish football.

As the Parkhead club stand on the brink of a third successive championship success, Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne has declared his intention to provide his League Cup winning manager Derek McInnes with the funds to run Celtic closer in the league next season.

Former Rangers director Dave King, meanwhile, has claimed he is prepared to personally contribute £30 million of a total sum of £50m he believes the Ibrox club need to compete credibly with Celtic on their

projected return to the top flight next year.

But Celtic manager Lennon is dubious, both at the prospect of Aberdeen mounting a genuine title challenge and of Rangers once more spending huge sums in the wake of their financial

collapse in 2012.

“I’m not so sure about that,” said Lennon. “£50 million is a lot of money and I’m not convinced that the owners would want to go down that road again, too quickly.

“I wouldn’t imagine that would happen. I think the owners of clubs are far too astute for spending big money and trying to chase it. I think they will build brick by brick over maybe the course of two, three, four seasons and really try to close the gap.

“We haven’t spent an amazing amount of money over the last couple of years so we still have some stock in the bank if we need it.

“But no, I can’t imagine clubs like Aberdeen or Rangers, at this stage, will start throwing

millions of pounds at it to chase it [the title].

“You look at the scenes of the last ten days and you can see that Aberdeen certainly have a huge fanbase. But I think it will be very difficult [for them to challenge

for the title].

“We have improved this

season in the league but no-one seems to talk about that. We’ve got 81 points now and we had 79 in total last season. We’ve got money in the bank from player sales and we may have more money going into the bank from player sales going into this summer. So I think it will be very difficult [for Aberdeen]. We are more than 20 points ahead of them with eight games left.

“We are in a good position but we have had to work very hard to get into this position and we have had our fingers burned along the way.

“It gets frustrating at times. We don’t spend the money that I would like but I understand that as well, because of where we are and the position we are in. But I think that will be a short-term thing and going into the future, for the next four of five years, I think we will look very strong.

“We are not in the position

financially that we were ten or 12 years ago but we may be again, once things start to change. There’s no question that, when Rangers come back, that will certainly boost their coffers but it will also boost our coffers.”

Lennon admits it took Celtic time to adjust to the absence of their traditional rivalry with Rangers but he has been more satisfied with the domestic consistency of his players this season. “Last season was different to us all with Rangers not there,” added Lennon. “We lost seven games in the league last season. The Champions League run was a factor, but we’ve also had Champions League football this season.

“You look for that edge. You’re better under pressure and I like the pressure. But I don’t think there’s been a complacency on our part because we’ve only lost three domestic games this season so, in terms of consistency, we’ve been very good. We’ve certainly been a lot better in the league this year. The domestic cups have been disappointing, there’s no question of that, and that’s something that will motivate us going into next season.”

Lennon, meanwhile, was quick to distance himself from the managerial vacancy at Nottingham Forest, where he had a brief spell as a player when he left Celtic in 2007.

“Neil Warnock has turned it down because of presumed interference from owners,” observed Lennon. “That seems to be more and more apparent in the game now and I’m not convinced it’s good for the game.

“It’s prevalent not just in some clubs in England but on the continent as well. These people are putting a lot of money into it and they want to have their say. I’m not saying they necessarily don’t know the game, but I’m not convinced it’s the right way to go. Neil obviously got a feel of it with the conversation he had and felt it wasn’t the way he wanted to work.

“If you look at Forest they’re on their fifth manager in just over a year and have had some good ones like Steve McClaren, Alex McLeish and Billy Davies. It looks like they want a quick fix and that’s not always the right way to go about it.”


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