Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Lennon six-game ban rocks Celtic

Neil Lennon

Celtic have announced plans to appeal after manager Neil Lennon received a six-match touchline ban from the Scottish Football Association.

The club confirmed they were taking the action after claiming they were “very surprised and extremely disappointed” by the sanctions imposed by the SFA's disciplinary committee.

Lennon saw his original punishment trebled after appealing against an automatic two-match ban for being sent to the stand in a game against Hearts on November 10.

He lost that appeal and received a further four-match ban for the charge of “excessive misconduct” relating to his dismissal in the 2-0 defeat at Tynecastle.

Among the games he would be banned from the dug-out for is a Scottish Cup tie against Rangers at Ibrox, after the Old Firm rivals were paired together in yesterday's fifth-round draw.

A statement from Celtic read: “Celtic and Neil Lennon confirmed today that they will be appealing today's decision by the SFA disciplinary committee to impose a six-match touchline ban.

“The matter is in the hands of the club's lawyers.

“We are very surprised and extremely disappointed at today's decision — we believe the punishment imposed was excessive in the circumstances and to our knowledge unprecedented for a first offence.

“We have maintained for some time that a range of SFA processes and structures needed to be reviewed and updated. This view was supported recently by Henry McLeish in his review of the SFA.

“Today's events only underline and reinforce our opinion. Without question Celtic will be supporting its manager Neil Lennon in his appeal.

“As well as challenging the severity of the punishment imposed, our appeal will also focus on issues of procedural fairness and the manner in which such hearings are conducted.”

Lennon appeared in person at Hampden yesterday to plead his case.

Meanwhile, Celtic coach Garry Parker warned that his players had taken a huge lift from their Ibrox victory after being handed a return trip in the cup.

Celtic triumphed 2-0 against Rangers on January 2 to give their Premier League title hopes a huge boost and prove they could win a big game under Neil Lennon.

Parker said: “There are a few more big games to come as well along the way, and hopefully we can get more results.

“We knew when we went there we needed to get something out of the game and we got the result we wanted.

Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley claimed it was the best possible draw for Walter Smith's men with the memory of the SPL defeat still fresh.

“I think it's a fabulous draw for all involved, supporters and more so for Rangers players,” Hateley said.

“Thinking back when I was a Rangers player, you want to get this game against your rivals quickly to get the bitter taste of the Old Firm New Year game out of your system.

“So it's a great draw, and it's a great draw for everyone else in the Scottish Cup, because it gives a bigger opportunity for one of the other teams to reach a final.”

Aberdeen captain Paul Hartley was “delighted” with his side's draw, a home tie against the winners of the replay between Dunfermline and Montrose at East End Park.

Hartley said: “It's another home tie and we feel we can have a good cup run this year.”

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