Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

New Neil Lennon threat sparks security rise

Neil Lennon
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 02: Neil Lennon coach of Celtic reacts with El Hadji Diouf #17 of Rangers during the Scottish Cup fifth round match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on March 2, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been given 24-hour surveillance at his home after a suspicious package addressed to him was intercepted at a Royal Mail sorting office.

Lennon was also accompanied to training at Barrowfield by a security officer yesterday morning after learning of the suspect package, which was discovered in Saltcoats.

It comes less than 72 hours after Lennon was involved in a touchline head-to-head with Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist at the end of Celtic’s controversial Scottish Cup fifth round replay win over their Old Firm rivals at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

The pair had to be separated at the end of an ill-tempered game which saw three Rangers players sent-off.

The package proved to be a hoax, but comes just a matter of weeks after bullets were sent through the post to the Celtic manager and two of his players, Northern Ireland internationals Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “Clearly, this most recent sickening event in a long line of threats to Neil and his family is extremely worrying.

“This demonstrates the intensity and pressure which Neil endures as the Celtic manager. However, he has coped with these issues incredibly well during his short time as manager, showing what a strong character he is.

“Indeed, it is extremely sad that Neil has had to contend with such issues for more than a decade, both as a Celtic player and manager.

“No-one in any walk of life should have to live in this way and those responsible should be condemned. It goes without saying Neil and his family will continue to receive every support from the Club.

“While the authorities and other commentators have taken a close interest in recent football events, we would hope they would give similar attention to also condemning such actions.”

First-team coach Alan Thompson stood in at the pre-match press conference ahead of today’s Scottish Premier League clash with Hamilton.

Thompson said: “Neil apologised to the board regarding the events after the game on Wednesday night and the board have accepted that. From our point of view that's finished and I know Walter (Smith) has said that as well.”

Asked why Lennon had not appeared for the press conference, Thompson replied: “Neil had a lot on his plate in the last couple of days and he thought it was right to stand out the way for a day or two.”

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