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No Celtic complacency without Rangers, says Lennon

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon warned the rest of the Scottish Premier League that his strongly-fancied Celtic side will not be victims of complacency as the new season kicks off today.

The Hoops are overwhelming favourites to retain their SPL title now that Old Firm rivals Rangers have been re-launched in the Third Division, and Hearts manager John McGlynn claimed that the only way Celtic could be threatened would be if the champions took it too easy.

Lennon, speaking ahead of today's SPL curtain raiser against Aberdeen at Parkhead, said: "It might be a fair comment but it is not going to happen. We pride ourselves on our professionalism and our standards that we have set over the last couple of years and we want to maintain that.

"Allied to that, we want to get through the next round in Europe and have a go at European football on top of the domestic league but there will be no complacency, that's for sure.

"We are probably heavier favourites than we have been for a while but we will just concentrate on retaining the title, that is the priority."

Meanwhile, ESPN has confirmed its continued coverage of Scottish football. The channel has followed Sky Sports in agreeing a five-year contract; they will screen 30 SPL games and 10 Rangers games from the Third Division, including three from Ibrox.

The SPL's television deal had been in doubt following the financial collapse of Rangers and the decision to vote the Ibrox newco into the Third Division, but chief executive Neil Doncaster and a steering group have safeguarded most of the revenue.

Sky announced on Tuesday they will also show 30 live league matches this season, including five Rangers fixtures. The announcement comes as SPL clubs meet to approve the television contracts dependent on the presence of both Rangers and Celtic.

Sky and ESPN had been due to sign a five-year deal worth £80m this summer to replace their existing £13m annual contract, before the downfall of Rangers.

The Kilmarnock chairman, Michael Johnston, said on Wednesday that he understood there would not be any "significant reduction" in broadcasting contract revenues.

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