Lennon’s fury at SFA rap overshadows Celtic win
St. Johnstone 0 Celtic 1: Neil Lennon restricted himself to describing the Scottish Football Association's apparent leniency towards Rangers as “interesting” and called for “media integrity” in the reporting of the ruling body's decision.
The Celtic boss was handed a four-match ban by the SFA for clashing with Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist at the end of the Scottish Cup fifth-round replay at Parkhead on March 2.
McCoist successfully appealed against the two-match ban he was given and Ibrox players Madjid Bougherra and El-Hadji Diouf escaped with fines and a warning about their future conduct after facing the SFA's disciplinary committee to answer a case of “misconduct of a significantly serious nature” during the same game.
Lennon returned to the dugout following his ban for last night’s Scottish Premier League trip to St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
And after watching his side go five points clear of Rangers at the top of the table with a 1-0 win thanks to Beram Kayal’s goal on the stroke of half-time, he said: “You have to write about it.
“I can't comment on a lot of things otherwise I will be back where I was last week (in the stand).
“You've got to see it for what it is.
“If you have any media integrity at all you will call it as it is. It is interesting that out of the fall-out of the ‘shame game' as people called it, I am the one who got punished and three other people got let off.
“Would there have been any point me appealing? No. That's why I didn't appeal.”
Paul McBride QC, who represented Lennon during the disciplinary hearings with the SFA and got his suspension effectively reduced to one game when he discovered that the rules did not mean the ban had to run consecutively with the four-match ban the Irishman received after being sent to the stand at Tynecastle last year, claimed the ruling body was now the “laughing stock of world football.”
But Lennon said: “That is Paul's opinion.
“He is not speaking on behalf of the club or myself, but obviously Paul is someone I respect and admire very much and if he is saying that there might be a lot of other people thinking that as well.”
The former Celtic skipper was delighted to be back in dugout.
“It was great,” he said.
“It got a wee bit fraught, at 1-0 you are always a wee bit worried that St Johnstone could equalise but I was really pleased with the performance, they answered a lot of questions.”
Saints survived a controversial penalty claim near the end when substitute Michael Duberry appeared to handle the ball twice as he lay on the ground but referee Iain Brines took no action.