Craig Levein has ‘degree of sympathy’ for Hibs boss Neil Lennon

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Hearts manager Craig Levein admits he has a “degree of sympathy” for Neil Lennon after the Hibernian boss was sent to the stands for protesting against a decision made by referee Kevin Clancy.

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Neil Lennon, right, is sent to the stands by referee Kevin Clancy during Hibs' 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock. Picture: SNS

Neil Lennon, right, is sent to the stands by referee Kevin Clancy during Hibs' 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock. Picture: SNS

Lennon sarcastically applauded in Clancy’s face on Saturday after he awarded a penalty to Kilmarnock that saw them claim a point from a 2-2 draw at Rugby Park.

He was subsequently outspoken in his criticism of the referee after seeing his side surrender a two-goal lead.

Levein clashed with Lennon earlier in the season following the Edinburgh derby but he has sympathy with his fellow managers, who he believes are coming under increasing pressure and scrutiny in the modern game.

However, he insists there is a line they must not cross.

“I’ve been there once or twice myself!” Levein said ahead of his own team’s clash with Killie. “It’s a pressurised job and when you’re standing on that touchline you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.

“(You have) expectations, from the boardroom, to the supporters, to the players and everybody who is watching, it’s a difficult place to be and at times it’s not easy to keep your head.

“I’ve been there a few times myself and I have got a degree of sympathy.

“The problem is that there is a line you try and stay behind and every now and then you stray over it.”

He added: “There has to be a line and we are all well aware of how far we can push it.

“I’ve been there on more than one occasion and it is frustrating. The pressure that is on us is on the referees as well.”

The standard of refereeing in both England and Scotland has come in for increased criticism this season both from the media and from managers themselves, but Levein was non-committal when asked if the quality in officiating has diminished.

“I think the scrutiny has increased,” he offered. “The cameras and the interest and amount of money that’s in the game have put more and more pressure on everybody.

“It puts pressure on players, managers and referees so I think the scrutiny is much greater.”

He added: “The referees generally do their best, and sometimes they make mistakes.

“Some years they make more than others and it happens.

“I feel I’ve been on the wrong side of a lot of decisions in football but there has to be something in place that keeps it all civilised and we all know that.”

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