Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Referee crisis: Neil Lennon hoping for happy ending

Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon acknowledged the crisis Scottish football finds itself in this weekend due to striking referees but is “optimistic” the outcome will be positive.

The Scottish Football Association spent the week hunting all over Europe for replacements after the country's grade one officials voted to withdraw their labour due to fears of personal safety amid a climate of increasing abuse and criticism, much of it driven by the Parkhead club.

However, the SFA's struggle to recruit from abroad means only the six Clydesdale Bank Premier League games, one Scottish Cup replay and the Alba Cup final seem guaranteed to go ahead, with Luxembourg referee Alain Hamer taking charge of Celtic's home game against Inverness.

“What's been going on in the last week or so doesn't put a good light on the game,” the Celtic boss said.

“But I'm optimistic that something good will come out of it.

“First of all I'm pleased that the game is going ahead, not only for the players but the supporters as well.

“It would have been a major disappointment to everyone at the club if the game hadn't gone ahead.

“We will see what the aftermath is after this weekend.

“It's not for me to comment on why there is a strike or what the reasons for the strike are, people have their own reasons for that.

“I understand it to a certain extent but I'm hoping that it will have a positive reaction rather than a negative one.”

Lennon remains adamant Celtic chairman John Reid was correct in calling for the SFA to sack Dougie McDonald if the referee refused to resign.

McDonald admitted lying to the Parkhead boss about the decision to rescind a penalty award for the Hoops in the win over Dundee United at Tannadice six weeks ago.

Much of the current problems Celtic have with referees stem from that controversial incident and at Celtic's AGM last week Reid called for McDonald to jump or be pushed. Lennon said: “We feel there needs to be a review of the way things have been handled. The chairman came out and made that point and we as a club back him.”

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