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Lennon and Celtic on threshold of long SPL dominance

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Jim Spence | 14:17 UK time, Saturday, 7 April 2012

Celtic's deserved title-winning success throws up two key questions.

Will we now see a long-running period of Celtic title dominance and will manager Neil Lennon decide that it is time to move on?

Let's take the second question first.

Lennon will sit down with his agent, Martin Reilly, in the summer to discuss his future.

Leave football aside for the moment. Lennon has endured the kind of strife and personal attacks upon his safety that would shock people in a banana republic.

That it should happen in modern Scotland is a disgrace.

I cannot begin to comprehend being sent bombs in the post and being attacked in the street. Can you?

That these things have happened on the basis of a football manager's religious background are a shocking indictment of parts of Scotland.

Lennon has tried in-between times to run a football team.

That he has steered them to league success with personal mayhem as his constant companion speaks of a strong character.

He still has much to learn about harnessing his passions in a way that reflects better on him and the club he manages. But that comes with age and experience.

When he sits down, he will reflect on the personal cost of these traumatic times to him and his family.

Lennon will weigh that against the future prospects for the team he is building.

He might also reflect that, while he will always take stick from fans because of his own fiery nature and the status of the club he manages, a more civil, more decent, more compassionate and outward-looking Scotland is also being forged while the kind of bigots who targeted him are driven to extinction.

The first question will also be a key component in Lennon's decision-making process.

Whatever kind of Rangers emerge from the debris of post-administration Ibrox, they seem set to be a much lesser power in the land for some time to come.

While fans of every other club will hope that a serious challenge can be mounted, Celtic have vastly superior resources with which to dominate the Scottish Premier League.

Within a short space of time, access to Champions League wealth may put them ahead of their greatest rivals in Govan for a decade, let alone the chasm that will open between Celtic and the rest.

It goes without saying that, unless Scottish football suddenly converts to a socialist-type redistributive model of wealth sharing, Celtic could be Kings of the Hill for years to come.

That will weigh heavily on Lennon's mind.

He has given Celtic sterling service as a player and manager and could walk away with his head held high.

But, as a football man, it is difficult to see where a better opportunity might present itself for him.

Celtic are Gulliver in Lilliput in terms of resources and support in the Scottish dimension.

The future for them and Lennon appears to be whatever they want it to be.

He has won his first Scottish title and should be able to repeat that with some ease.

Europe, though, is the stage he can truly test himself on.

Great Scottish managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Jim McLean flew the flag for Scotland throughout Europe, putting to the sword the best the continent could offer.

They flew the flag against the giants of European football on a Ryanair budget.

Lennon and Celtic are not similarly handicapped.

Europe is the stage that Lennon and Celtic will want to fly high on.

Once the summer soul-searching is over for the Celtic manager, I suspect he'll be fastening his seat belt, passport in hand, for adventures in Europe with Celtic.


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  • Comment number 1.

    The greatest comparison with a banana republic is that a fan was seen on live tv assaulting the man and was still found not guilty.

  • Comment number 2.

    As a Liverpool fan, I think he's performed superbly and I think he could be a manager at a big English club, I can see him leaving and taking over Aston Villa perhaps or Everton if Moyes leaves for Tottenham...a chain of events and changes, but he is definitely an intelligent tactician and a brave-hearted Celtic employee whose service cannot be questioned an inch.

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    interesting point jim makes about what happens in some areas of scotland. as a celtic supporter ive suffered sectarian abuse in every ground ive watched football in scotland

  • Comment number 5.

    The referees lied to him, the papers make him seem like a demon therefore Neil Lennon deserves extra praise for enduring the attention of the vile creatures who have made him their nemesis. Sad but not surprising considering the previous shambles such as Dougiegate, Boruc being cautioned, Dallas' untimely exit or even the farrygate affair. The tabloid media are devoid of any decency and Scottish football will not move forward until these anomalies are less apparent.

  • Comment number 6.

    Jim, as much as I would love Celtic to achieve European success, I don't think it's realistic to suggest that they have the financial means to compete against the giants of Europe. However, here's hoping they can give a good account of themselves anyway !

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh for goodness sake, he's fiery-tempered, loses the plot on the touchline, did not perform in Europe, and won the championship in a league where his main rivals financially imploded and Celtic outspend the rest of the clubs by an order of magnitude. Some people on here really need to develop a sense of perspective. "I think he could be manager of a big English club." Yeah, well, maybe...

  • Comment number 8.

    Being a big fish in a very small pond is not particularly impressive.

  • Comment number 9.

    All you need to do to see what Lennon has had to put up with is seeing McCoist lean in, whisper something to him that infuriated him and then Lennon gets all the blame for reacting while McCoist gets a slap on the wrist.

    I have no idea about any "conspiracy" against Celtic like people always try to use as an insult but it's clear to see Celtic, under Neil Lennon, have been used as a scapegoat for all the problems in Scottish football and the only reason Rangers are suffering is because the tax man is fed up, otherwise they'd still be running roughshod without any policing by anyone.

    I hope Lennon stays with Celtic, all he will get is abuse whatever club he goes to, the hassle he gets is not related to football, it will never stop.

  • Comment number 10.

    @highbhoy: "as a celtic supporter ive suffered sectarian abuse in every ground ive watched football in scotland" ... you mean like those dens of sectarian hot-headedness like Easter Road or Pittodrie? Granted, those are epicentres for bigotry and everyone in Leith and Aberdeen *really* support Rangers, or maybe your writing style is a tad overstated?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think Lennon has done very well in an environment no person should have to endure. How good celtic are in the grander scheme of things is questionable, but Lennon stuck around at a time he could have left to make life easier for himself and his family. To endure assault as he did he job, and bombs as he went to work in the morning just because of the guys religious background is shameful and noone would have blamed him if he said 'enough is enough' and left. To be perfectly honest I would have done just that.

    But he seems to be sticking around despite all that has been thrown at him. He has gone way beyond what people should rightfully expect of a football manager by not giving in to these thugs, and he more than deserves his success today. Hopefully next season, whether celtic win the league again or not, he will not have to endure the irrational hatred he has done to date in this country.

  • Comment number 13.

    Blog 7 Howling_sheep. Thats about the most honest and down to earth assessment of Neil Lennon's performance I've read here. My best friend is a Celtic season Ticket holder and he cannot wait to get rid of him. He thinks he is useless and pretty much never forgave him for bottling it with 'losing' the league championship last year.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Being a big fish in a very small pond is not particularly impressive."


    Fair enough. But you can only best who you are up against

  • Comment number 15.

    @14 Hail_Hail ... true enough, but let's get rid of the Old Firm veto on SPL voting, make a fairer distribution of prize money and TV money and level the playing field *just a tiny wee bit* rather than having the dice loaded towards the only rich club left in Scottish football* shall we, then see what happens?

    * Celtic

  • Comment number 16.

    Nick - ur absolutely right but being second( maybe )and skint is infinitely worse!

  • Comment number 17.

    With no other team willing to challenge Celtic. I can see them stagnating and that will mean they will suffer in an ever more competitive European competition. If Celtic think its tough now, the future looks even more bleak for Scottish Football in Europe.

  • Comment number 18.

    my gran could manage celtic to the spl

  • Comment number 19.

    All you need to know about the state of the West of Scotland is the fact that when, Lennon is sent to the stands at Ibrox, he is told not to go to the stand for his own safety,Craig Whyte is told not to go near Ibrox as his safety cannot be guaranteed even though he is the owner, then when Celtic win the league, they cannot be presented with the trophy in their own ground at their next home game as it's against Rangers. Why are the the powers that be in Scottish football allowing these sort of events to continue without any punishment to Rangers football club, as they are the common denominator in all the above situations??

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Blog 15- dont remember this attitude before THE big club was skint.

  • Comment number 22.

    Blog 18- perhaps ur gran will apply for the job at Ibrox when it's available!

  • Comment number 23.

    @17 King_Kowalski ... your use of the word 'willing' is interesting ... other clubs simply aren't 'willing' to challenge the Old Firm because they must be lazy or something? Silly old me, i just thought the Old Firm were far richer ... and a bunch of clubs in recent years who tried to compete (since the mid '90s) went into administration or saddled themselves with crippling debt... Now i see that they *couldn't be bothered*! Well that's a far more comforting perspective for the OF than admitting that they just have kaboodles more cash than everyone else ... I mean, imagine having to come to terms with the fact that you've won the league because you're massively privileged and can afford all the best players!

  • Comment number 24.

    @18 innis ... i'd keep in with your gran if i were you - some posters here think she's on course for a major high paying job in English football

    @mag67 ... then you haven't read anything i've written on the late, lamented BBC football message boards, or here under Jim Spence's blog, over the years

  • Comment number 25.

    Jim Spence- Ur final sentence is spot on. N L is not a quitter and has only started to compile his managerial CV.

  • Comment number 26.

    No 1 - The greatest comparison with a banana republic is that a fan was seen on live tv assaulting the man and was still found not guilty.

    Wrong. John Wilson's verdict was 'not proven' and this is because the procurator fiscal wanted to charge him with 'assault aggravated by religious prejudice', instead of just a plain assault charge, for which he undoubtedly would have been found guilty.
    It should also be noted that Mr Wilson did actually spend four months in Saughton Prison in custody between the incident and the end of his trial.

  • Comment number 27.

    Blog24- ur right, new on the block.

  • Comment number 28.

    Main thing thats needing said is Good Blog Jim! Bad day if you're a nail because the chances are you've just been hit on the head! Bad jokes aside – Lennon has done a good enough job. I agree with your assertion that he still has a lot to learn (though I suspect many of my fellow Celtic fans won't) and I think Lennon has been slow to learn. I base this last conclusion on the fact Lennon has often played 4-5-1 in Europe despite the fact he gives the team very little time to acustomize to playing the formation domestically. The continuing absence of this necessary practice forces me to agree with @weeMartian. Hopefully Lenny will continue to learn and maybe one day the dreams of future Seville's and Lisbon's might be a step closer.

  • Comment number 29.

    To compete in Europe, Celtic would need to attract a stronger class of player than they have been able to for quite some time now. The SPL becoming less competitive really won't drive those players into Celtic's arms when they could be playing in one of the "big four" leagues, or even the French or Dutch leagues.
    Anything Lennon can now achieve domestically will carry the taint that it was only possible because the "other" club in Scotland was on the skids.
    Look at Martin O'Neill's post-Celtic managerial career, none of the big clubs in England has even looked at him, so if Lennon wants to move south again some day, winning a one horse race a few times isn't likely to make a lot of difference.

    On the other hand, he clearly loves the club beyond reason, he might decide that this can be the pinnacle of his career, it would be refreshing to see someone do that rather than always having an eye down south.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great to see ADHD boy commenting on this thread, you must have some amount of alternate id's kiddo ? Must be breaking your heart having no 606 to dominate anymore ?

    Busts me that this is the same team we wilted against in the cup final.

    Why was Shiels snarling like a rabid pup all day ?

    Champions AND better day.

  • Comment number 31.

    Strangy @ 17.55

    Are you suggesting that we send bombs and assault football managers that are passionate, fiery and have a temper? Why is Neil Lennon the only manager in the UK to have been sent bullets, death threats, a parcel bomb and been attacked in the street and at a football ground?..... with your explanation, surely this should be a weekly occurence across every league!

    Don't make the mistake of thinking that this evil doesn't exist. This is bigotry, pure and simple. The anti-catholic sentiment is underlying in everything that happens with Neil Lennon in Scotland.

    Accept the fact that the bigotry occurs, instead of making futile attempts to dress up physical attacks and bombs as anything other than completely unacceptable.

    Zero Tolerance. It's the only way to drive any kind of discrimination out of society. When you see the anti-racist sentiment at the first sign of any form of abuse in the English Leagues, what sort of impression does your opinion give of Scotland? You tolerate bigotry, but are intolerant of a fiery red haired Northern Irishman with a chip on his shoulder.... seriously...? that's mental!!

  • Comment number 32.

    strangy, you're obviously another of the knuckle draggers that are keeping this country entrenched in sectarian bigotry. Neil Lennon had no problems with religious bigotry at any time in his career until he came to play for Celtic. He managed to play for his country, NI, how many times before the knuckle draggers threatened him - probably just a coincidence that this happened when he became the captain of Celtic? Stop defending the indefensible, NL doesn't bring things on himself, rangers supporters just cannot stomach the fact that an uppity irish catholic is putting them in their place. NL isn't the problem - the rangers support is.
    If NL walks away from Celtic it will be a serious indictment on sottish society.
    Celtic won the title because they were the better team. rangers finacial situation was just a smoke screen. Celtic have the better players & the better manager. mccoist has been fortunate that the financial meltdown has stopped people actually analysing his performance.
    However, today is for celebrating. As NL said last season, "this isn't the end, it's only the beginning"

  • Comment number 33.

    Similar to #10 I think I'm slightly underwhelmed that the team who were favourites for the league, have the biggest squad and dominate the others by some chalk have performed to expectations and won the league. That such a mediocre team will dominate for years to come highlights the malaise about the current game in Scotland. There will be no challenger along anytime soon and this league is so lacking in any competition its completely stale. I remember a time when even the non-OF teams had 'big' players but no longer.

    I've spent much of this season watching the Championship: the competition puts the SPL to shame.

    Celtic will be extremely lucky if they make the CL and while you might want that to happen the group finances will just cement their dominance even further. If they don't get a favourable draw then the Europa beckons and they will probably not progress beyond the group stage.

  • Comment number 34.

    Strangy @ 17.55

    Strangy do you believe in the individuals rights to the twin freedoms of speech and self expression ? Surely in Scotland a person is entitled his views,you may not like what Neil Lennon says but he has the right to say a democracy !

    You say that Neil Lennon is an "idiot",but does this mean that he deserves death threats,bomb deliveries and being attacked in the street ? The fact that someone may hold contrary views to certain people does not give these individuals the right to judge him,find him guilty and administer a fitting punishment as they see fit or unfit.

    Your article appears to be even handed/balanced on the surface,but it is in fact sugar coated poison.You quite clearly state that you are not out to defend the actions that have been perpetrated against Neil Lennon,but your character assasination/demonising of him is clearly an attempt to give creedence and justification to the people who have carried out the scurulous and cowardly acts against Neil Lennon.

    Good attempt Strangy,you truly are a voice for reason and moderation....some mistake surely ?

  • Comment number 35.

    Blog 31 Briza14
    Thanks for commenting and let me table a quick response.
    My point about NL are that it is the actions of the man under the circumstances he operates - that is, a high profile manager, of a high profile team, within a goldfish bowl environment that suffers from bigotry/religion related incidents that results in the actions he has had to endure.
    No Lisbon Lion, Paul McStay, John Collins the list goes on have suffered the type of abuse/threats Lennon has - and neither did Lennon previously either as Capt of a successful Celtic side. So why is it now members of society suddenly decide to get all 'anti-catholic' as you put it. They dont and they havent, thats why. The fiery red haired Northern Irishman with the chip on his shoulder really needs to look inward at his own actions and ask himself if he encourages the more warped minded members of society to attack/threaten him considering just how futile the entire west coast football-fan fraternity is.
    Listen, I think its awful what the guy has had to endure and if we were all honest, we would probably feel mightily sorry for ourselves if we had folk wanting to assault us/maim us and so forth. It must be terrible to endure. But do I think these attacks are based solely upon his religion. No, I just dont buy it.
    This is a Neil Lennon thing. Its not an anti-catholic thing.

  • Comment number 36.

    Firstly, after what happened Rangers, there would have been an investigation if Celtic hadn't won this year.
    Scottish football is at such an all time low standard that Celtic with an average team should win everything for the next decade.....a pathetic sate of affairs.
    Mr. Lennon has endured more than anyone should but he is certainly no angel.
    His attitude and behaviour is well over the top and falls way short of the standards that great teams desire in their leader. Therefore he will stay with Celtic who, unlike most other teams, are prepared to put up with it.

  • Comment number 37.

    strangy, you're a bigot, plain & simple.
    Neil Lennon's behaviour does not excuse the morons who have threatened his life.
    Think of the anti-rape campaign - wearing a mini skirt / dressing promiscually is not an excuse for raping a woman.
    try using similar sentiments to NL's treatment from the morons in scottish society.
    It's sectarian bigotry and it'll never go away when people like you are apologising for the knuckle draggers.
    Time to come into the 20th century (the 21st century is a step too far for you).
    anyway, I've got a glass of sparkly in my hand and I'm away to get fed - hopefully jelly & ice cream for dessert

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    For the record i am a Rangers fan!!
    First of all it is a disgrace the way Lennon and his family have been threatened and he was assaulted!! A Disgrace!! cannot be tolerated and when found guilty of such acts the thugs should be punished to the full extent of the law!!

    However Neil do yourself a favour and behave like a manager should with class and dignity!! I suspect that your life would be easier if you behaved like Ally for example!!!!


  • Comment number 40.

    Celtic played in a similar vaccuum between 65 - 74 and it didn't do them any harm, 2 European cup finals (beating the great Leeds side of 1969 - 1970)...only to lose to Feyenord in the final.

    It is true that these days money dominates the game and the glory days are long gone and that they may not have the resources to compete with the best in Europe... but then neither seemingly do the Dutch and Germans...The tide is turning though the financial situation of a lot of clubs isn't as good as it was... both Spain and Italy as countries are in deep financial trouble and things do turn around.
    Celtic have always punched above their weight in Europe. In 2003 they beat two English Sides on the way to the UEFA Cup Final where they were beaten in extra time by the Porto team that the next season won the European Cup (Knocking Manchester United out along the way!!). Indeed Celtic have beaten some class teams in Europe and on their day are capable of beating anyone and as the great Inter Milan found out in 67...especially those who underestimate them

  • Comment number 41.


    I can still see you kiddo !

    How's joe banana doing fng ?

  • Comment number 42.

    Tainted title my backside; what IS tainted is Rangers not paying their debts, The taxman is owed millions (and that's before the EBT verdict) but remember who the taxman is collecting for - you and me. How much soldiers kit, nurses salaries, etc etc could these debts, much of which will never be collected, have paid for,

    Rangers FC (In [or out of] Administration - A permanent embarrassment and an occasional disgrace.

  • Comment number 43.

    iam not a celtic fan but lennon deserves this title after all the abuse hes had to put up with if rangers start to decline on the pitch depending what happens and lennon stays he could achieve the impossible 10 in a row it could happen celtic will win the double now the league is wraped up congrats celtic fans.

  • Comment number 44.

    The logic of the article is counter-intuitive. How can Celtic possibly now hope for great things on the Euro stage when they have even less challenge on the home front? It's kind of like saying that a boxer can prime himself for the world heavyweight title by taking on a bunch of bantam weights?? I would like to see Scottish clubs do well in Europe - but when Fergie and McLean were doing well, the domestic league was a far more level playing field than it is now.

  • Comment number 45.

    tainted - just watching Karate Kid with my son - quote from it - "a lie only becomes a truth when people believe it"
    Celtic are 18 points clear - rangers being punished for all their cheating over the past 15 years has only cost them 10 points - still means Celtic would be 8 points clear, with 5 games to go and an OF game at Celtic Park to come.
    rangers fans really do love their myths
    as for behaving like ally, he is the one who caused the mayhem at Celtic Park - a wee slimy sneak, - he threw in the handgrenade then walked away and left the mayhem for everyone else to clean up
    I'd rather have Neil Lennon - uppity but honest

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm afraid I dont think Neil Lennon has really proven anything in winning this title. Its like saying Ally Macoist has proven his managerial talent by coming second (possibly) with all thats going on at Rangers.

    Players improve by getting gametime against good opposition. If the most competitive games Rangers and Celtic play are old firm matches, i doubt the possibilites for player improvement. I watched my first one in a decade last year and it was ridiculous, frantically chasing the ball with little respect to player position or team tactics.

    I always found it amazing the love players suddenly found for their respective clubs which encouraged them to go to the lengths of getting sent off in old firm matches. These players who had often only moved there that season made themselves immortal with fans by scything down opponents and taking a red card and probably losing their team the game. It is this need to play up to the fans which I think some posters are pointing to for the actions of the managers. You simply do not see this happening in quality football. EPL title contenders have a joke with each other throughout games and shake hands after games. Managers can control themselves.

    For me, a decrease in the quality of Rangers will automatically lead to a decrease in the quality of the league and Celtic. What the lack of money might do is allow more Scots into the Rangers team improving the national team but thats another matter.

  • Comment number 47.

    Blog 37. justinjest, thanks for your kind assessment of me being a bigot. I looked up the definition in my Cambridge dictionary. It says "a person who has strong, unreasonable beliefs and who thinks that anyone who does not have the same beliefs is wrong". Now, do you know what my religion is based upon my blogs? I must assume you think me white, protestant and a Rangers fan to boot. Child, you are so naive.

    Blog 34. C McHugh. My intention was not to spout sugar-coated poison and infact, you almost allude to the point I was attempting to make, namely, Neil Lennon has every right to act and behave as he chooses but in the fragile environment he operates in, is it appropriate?
    In fact, earlier in the season, Ali McCoist fell out with the BBC after it manipulated a press conference to imply that he laughed about an old firm issue. He felt that this was absolutely inappropriate. Of course, he had the right to express whatever view he wanted but knew that whats legal and whats appropriate in an old-firm environment are 2 different things.
    Most of the Blogs supporting neil Lennon seem to be coming from Celtic supporters and I can see that they want to be protective of him. Dont also tho be blinded to his antics. When Rangers were beating Celtic to the league last year, Lennon even then was being attacked so it has nothing to do with him being successful, far less Irish or Ginger.

  • Comment number 48.

    Strangy, your comment:

    "that is, a high profile manager, of a high profile team, within a goldfish bowl environment that suffers from bigotry/religion related incidents that results in the actions he has had to endure."

    The very fact that this is the case means that when the opportunity to stand up against it comes along, we need to attack it from all quarters. Would it not be refreshing if every person interested in the well-being of Scottish society would shout out together that this is enough?

    I don't think you're a bigot, or a knuckle-dragger, but I disagree with you completely.

    Neil Lennon has no case to answer. He is a football manager. He is a Catholic. He is Northern Irish. He is a decent law-abiding, tax-paying member of our society and deserves the respect, security, peace and freedoms that every person deserves.

    Or should Neil Lennon sacrifice himself for his friends? I know of others who have done the same... they're called Martyrs. What would it take for the West of Scotland problem to go away?

  • Comment number 49.

    I am a Rangers fan and believe Celtic do deserve to win the title this season. Rangers have not been good enough three home defeats on the trot isn't championship material, also Rangers were drawing too many games, the over reliance on Naismith and Jelavic came back to haunt Rangers.

    This said I do believe that administration has played a big part in Celtic winning the title along with two games. The first game being the Old firm game at Parkhead which Rangers lost 1-0. Lee Wallace's headed goal was not given. If that goes in Rangers could've at least got one point out of that match because McGregor was having decent game, so take two off Celtic and give Rangers a point.

    The second key match was the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen: Sone Aluko had a legitimate goal disallowed for offside near the end of the match so Rangers should've won that match 2-1 so give Rangers an extra two points. So that's an extra THIRTEEN points so Celtic are then on 79 points to Rangers 76 with five matches to go including an old firm game. And everyone remembers what happened in 2003 and 2005.

    Still wishful thinking, In the end Celtic deserve their title because Rangers have been mediocre from November onwards.

    One more thing did Killie lay down for Celtic just like Dunfermline and Killie did for Rangers ;-).

  • Comment number 50.

    It would seem that things are now so bad that to in any way criticise Neil Lennon's behaviour leaves one wide open to accusations of bigotry from the Celtic support. Are these people really saying that they agree with all Mr Lennons comments and actions? That they agree that he stays quiet for 26 weeks when Celtic are winning or at least not losing then loses it with the referee's of the two games Celtic recently lost in a week. That they agree with really poor comments that he couldn't congratulate Killie on winning the League Cup because they did not deserve it? Have they had a player sent off in the last year that deserved to go?
    Neil Lennon's Celtic side have deservedly won the league as they are comfortably the best team in it. Despite what has happened at Ibrox talk of a tainted league is sour grapes as Celtics long unbeaten run was what won the title. Neil Lennon has had to put up with must have been an appalling experience for himself and his loved ones and no right minded adult could think otherwise but that doesn't mean that everything he says and does in a football environment is correct! I remember reading comments attributed to the late great Jock Stein who said that his teams must always retain dignity in defeat and Lennon really does need to think more before he speaks be it to referees or the press because he comes across on occasions as very ungracious and unsporting and it is not being bigoted to point this out.

  • Comment number 51.

    A pub team winning a pub league. Hardly major news. Still, at least it's marginally more competitive than the one-horse EPL. :rollseyes:

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    It's great being a Celtic supporter in England , you get respect because they never forget 1967 and 1970. Reading all tonight's rubbish and bigotry reminds me of why I left Glasgow 40 years ago. It's pathetic and embarrassing.

  • Comment number 54.

    Pointless blog.

    It would only take a special manager for a team outside the Old Firm to win the league. Neil Lennon is nothing special. Cruised to the championship with their rival wounded and and an incomparable level of resources at their disposable against the other teams in the league.

    Also seems pointless that he is mentioned in the same blog as SAF, unless it was a blog comparing achievement.

    Who would win, a man with a gun or a man with a stick? that's what this full article is like.

  • Comment number 55.

    how fitting for Celtic to take the SPL on the same day that Cambridge take the boat race when their only other conceivable rival falls into difficulties meaning they cant compete. Winning successive champions as Celtic look set to do will mean even less then before... better they test themselves in the English and Welsh league -most people will appreciate Swansea's survival then Celtic's victory and so they should

  • Comment number 56.

    Reply to 47. At 21:25 7th Apr 2012, Strangy wrote:

    In your reply to me you mention "the fragile environment",what is this exactly ? Is it some sort of unstable neurotic society ? Is it a form of institutional fascism ? Or perhaps it is just certain peoples plain intolerance of other peoples disposition or/and point of view.

    When Ally McCoist expressed his legitimate opinions was he subjected to a barrage of threats and intimidation ?

    In summary the root of the problem is not Neil Lennon and his utterances and opinions,it is in fact the "fragile environment" that we all live in,and until attitudes change,will continue to live in.

  • Comment number 57.

    Congratulations on winning a one horse race.

    A mighty achievement.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm sick to death of hearing about the so called "Tainted Title". As far as I'm concerned, the 15 point deficit was overturned prior to Rangers going into administration.

    I personally would say the tainted titles go as far back as Rangers have been fiddling players wages and dodging the tax man (not to mention, not paying the window cleaner!!)

    You get what you deserve as far as I am concerned; and if that means Rangers struggle to survive, then so be it.

    Lennon is not Celtic Manager material but he has guaranteed the club future success, in building a youthful team. He has dealt with some stick in his time (some of his own doing) but no one should have to put up with death threats and the likes.

    Celtic earned the title this year on their own merit; and with Rangers paying back their debts like a Littlewoods catalogue for the next 20 years, it looks like the title could be returning for many years to come.

  • Comment number 59.

    When Rangers lose the Big Tax Case will it be a tainted result for HMRC?

  • Comment number 60.

    Lennon always appears to be an unpleasant individual if he does not get his own way. He is disliked by a lot of people who are ordinary folk and I believe that the game in Scotland suffers from his antics.

  • Comment number 61.


    Scottish football suffers because of Neil Lennons antics? Are you on the correct blog?

    Scottish football suffers because of a lot of things but trying to apportion some of the blame on Neil Lennon is as ridiculous as the RFC finances.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    I have friends who are supporters of every team in the SPL and not one of them like Neil Lennon apart from the Celtic fans. His comments after Kilmarnock won their final were disgraceful and sadly, to be expected. Showing dignity in defeat and victory is the mark of a good manager and a decent human being.

  • Comment number 65.

    Firstly congractulations for Celtic achieving the bare minimum requirement this season. Winning the SPL as well all know in Scotland is on a par with the 2nd divison in England.

    Many Scottish football supporters outside the Old Firm find it very difficult to share in the joy of Celtic. To highlight the fact 9 times this season Celtic have won against 10 men - many of which were disgraceful decisions. Also the damage to the game last season that Celtic and Celtic press cause was damaging and the game has not recovered.

    As for the league. No point covering the rest of the season. It is uncompetitive and boring. Time for restructure and more importantly time for a radical policy on spending power to encourage better quality of play and more fairer competition.

    Celtic are champions but lets no kid ourselves they are the worst champion in living memory.

  • Comment number 66.

    Celtic-Rangers...Rangers-Celtic...blah-blah-blah. Let's face it, any SPL manager could win the title with Celtic this year with Rangers in financial melt down. As a St.Mirren fan I have to emphasise that Neil Lennon is not even the best SPL manager named Lennon! Even with Rangers in financial melt down any other SPL manager could do at least as well McCoist. Lennon and McCoist; two young managers, over hyped and over rated.

  • Comment number 67.

    Sorry, but apart from Jim Spence, I don't take it as read that Rangers will be a lesser power for years to come when we exit administration. None of our potential buyers want that, and they are all putting serious money in! As for the other part of this rather short and pointless blog, I would never condone anyone behaving in the way that some people who call themselves Rangers supporters have regarding Neil Lennon. However, that being said, Neil's attitude towards the football authorities is generally less than edifying, he really is his worst own enemy. There are many Celtic managers I have disagreed with on almost everything, there is only one Celtic manager I have ever actively disliked....

  • Comment number 68.

    What is now the point of the SPL? The inevitability of Celtic's domination is a good thing, as it will hasten the the process by which this embarrassing and squalid 'competition' withers away to the obscurity it deserves. The only interesting thing about it for the forseeable future will be the spectacle of TV pundits attempting to maintain the pretence that Scotland's domestic game is even remotely unpredictable.

  • Comment number 69.

    Even Alex Ferguson's limitations were apparent when he was Scotland manager: No matter how good a manager you may be, you still cannot make average players win over better opponents.

  • Comment number 70.

    Winning a 2-club league when the other club has effectively been disqualified? Surely it would be impossible NOT to!

    What kind of achievement is that?

    I wish for the Scots' sake that they demanded more. It's pure comedy farce.

  • Comment number 71.

    Been a celtic fan for 50 years + dont know if Lennon is a great manager too early to tell but what he does have is passion. he showed as a player and as a manager that he will be committed whereever he goes just pleased he is hear at Parkhead. I also think that the backroom will play a lot in European future with a crop of youngsters who attract attention sout of the border. Maybe i can dream of another home grown team but probably not born with 30 miles of Glasgow. As Jim says lets get rid of the old ways and on with the new

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    I Am flabbergasted that anyone can any longer taker the SPL seriously enough for someone to write an article about Celtic dominating this joke league. Celtic were so desperate to get into the English league/s that they offered to go into league 1 as a start.

  • Comment number 74.


    I would agree, Lennon's prickly attitude in after-match rants at ref, linesmen, and general firey nature at times leaves a lot to be desired. No wonder he often finds himself in trouble with the footballing authorities.

    Now, did I just describe Neil Lennon or Sir Alex Ferguson?

    Let's be absolutely clear here; Lennon, unlike any of the Lisbon Lions, Paul McStay or John Collins as you mention, is attacked in the street, sent suspicious packages in the post, on the receiving end of death threats and attacked at football matches for 4 main reasons;
    1) He's Northern Irish.
    2) He's Catholic
    3) He's manager of Celtic
    4) He's uninhibited in his comments.

    Yes, I would agree, he could do with maturing a bit.....but I think Jim Spence covered that adequately in his article.

    You and people like you do a diservice to the decent people of Scotland by living in a state of perpetual denial as to the real motives behind individuals perpetrating the acts they do against Neil Lennon. To the extent that you and people like you are complicit in it.

    Let's re-cap;

    A man attacks Lennon. There are about 17,000 witnesses. It recorded live on TV and consequently viewed by several millions. The man is prosecuted. He admits an assault. He writes a letter to Lennon apologising for the assault. His legal team at the subsequent trial instructs the jury to find him guilty of the assault. The only debate is whether there is a religious motive for the assault.

    Unbelievably, the jury finds the charge 'not proven.'

    Is that your idea of 21st Century Scotland, Strangy?

  • Comment number 75.

    No matter how you word or phrase your extremely well thought through replies, the fact of the matter remains; Celtic are League Champions.

    It doesn't surprise me to see so many Rangers fans jump to the defence of their team but to be honest, there is nothing to defend!

    Scottish football may not be the strongest in the world, refereeing decisions, questionable, it may be a two horse race but come on; we've known that for years.

    The big two have always been happy reaping the rewards of a reasonably healthy bank account and the spending power that goes with it. Neither of the two have been successful in Europe so domestic titles are the best they can both hope for.

    But this is all old news.

    Celtic are not the worst Champions in history; they are simply champions.

    If I was a Rangers fan, I would be more concerned with the future of my team because no matter how positive you guys try to remain, no business man is going to invest without seeing in a return in an extremely short period of time. Considering the debts are allegedly at the 140 million mark (the cost to buy the league these past few years), that is a huge deficit to make up.

    If success come at such a cost, the new potential owners have a job on their hands.

    Don't worry though; if it all goes wrong, you can always blame Neil Lennon.

  • Comment number 76.

    Congratulations to Neil Lennon and his Celtic team on being 2012 Champions.
    It's time us true loyal Rangers fans accepted that some of us a bigots and the Rangers fans that sent the bombs must be condemned without question.
    As Jim alludes - this is Scotland in 2012 not Afghanistan where home-made bombs are commonplace.
    I think it's a disgrace that Lennon has had to live with all these threats.
    It shows me that far from being tainted- this title was even harder for Lennon to win.
    Let's take the chip off our shoulders and applaud the guy eh?
    Well done Lennon- well done Celtic!
    We will be back - but hopefully with a few bigots locked-up safely in jail!

  • Comment number 77.

    Why do some comments come threw and some not even when the comment wasn't a bad or derogatory comment. Few Celtic fans at the BBC eh...phhht what a load of rubbish....admit Celtic won a 1 horse race with a team of pub LvL. I live in a sleepy wee village in yorks and our kids team could beat Celtic..... MUFC Fan 4evr but just know the blue in my name is for real should have been orange!

  • Comment number 78.

    I'm sick & tired of hearing how poor the spl is and how it can be compared to league 2 in england. Has anyone actually watched the championship? Competitive, yes! Decent football, no! How many Scottish players have left the spl and become stars in the championship?

    Celtic can only beat whoever is put in front of them, it's not their fault that rangers have imploded. How can that possibly mean that it's a tainted title? If it is tainted, what about the titles won by rangers, who were using players they couldn't actually afford & at the same time drag the other Scottish clubs into a never ending circle of debt!

  • Comment number 79.

    @77. MuFcMCTOOSH

    I would say you are a fair representation of the idiotic bigots who follow with pride and prejudice.

    A fantastic role model!

  • Comment number 80.

    Can we get the Neil Lennon "success" into a little perspective here, please?
    The best reference with which to compare Neil Lennon, in my belief, is his compatriot - Brendan Rodgers.
    Football career: Lennon (plenty of trophies, but dogged by controversy; there were intolerable and repeated threats to his person, whilst playing with both club and country - shameful to both N.I. and Scotland as countries); Rodgers (career halted due to injury, aged 20).
    Coaching Career: Lennon (briefly at Celtic / Nottingham Forest); Rodgers (from Reading, through Chelsea ranks - progressive).
    Managerial Career: Lennon (straight in at Celtic, now near the end of his second season at the helm); Rodgers (Watford briefly; Reading where he got plaudits, then the sack; Swansea, where he has performed a minor miracle with journeyman players - in arguably the best league in the world).
    Personality: Lennon (often composed and articulate, clearly very knowledgeable, occasionally fiery, under pressure he's a "magnet for trouble" and, unfortunately, "loses it" too often); Rodgers (thoughtful, supremely knowledgeable, inoffensive, a total gentleman).
    OK, Brendan Rodgers has yet to guarantee Swansea security in the Premiership. OK, Neil Lennon has just won a championship (and a championship is a championship, no matter where it happens).
    But, consider the resources and the massive backing that the man from Lurgan has had, compared to what the gent from Carnlough has had to contend with. Have a think: what would Brendan Rodgers have done at Celtic, with the resources at Mr. Lennon's disposal?
    I know who I think is the better manager - by a country mile! I think Neil Lennon could learn lessons in management; and in the way in which he should conduct himself throughout his professional life; if he behaved and emulated the actions of the modest, magnificent person named Brendan Rodgers.

  • Comment number 81.

    Tin pot league, tin pot players (Samaras?), great fans although the religion thing puts off the rest of Europe. Well done to Celtic? It's like the current Man Utd team winning Div 2.

  • Comment number 82.

    Good comparison of Lennon and Rodgers, although Rodgers is actually managing in a professional league.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm sick & tired of hearing how poor the spl is and how it can be compared to league 2 in england. Has anyone actually watched the championship?

    => I think that Birmingham City actually outperformed the Old Firm in Europe dear Sparky.

  • Comment number 84.

    @captainkatanga - thanks!
    I used the word "championship" to highlight where I think the SPL is, roughly...
    I watch League 2 regularly. Celtic, Hearts, Motherwell and Rangers are above that standard by a distance and are just above League 1 standard. They are "championship-quality" - in English League terms - in my view.
    Over a season, with the players Celtic currently have, Celtic would have been in the bottom 2 in the Premiership with Wolves, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 85.

    I see Neil Lennon at Swansea next season, if Brendan Rodgers steps up to Tottenham, should England appoint Harry Redknapp as manager.
    Neil Lennon could build on the success that Rodgers has created, learn a bit more about football and himself, be out of the "goldfish bowl" of the "Old Firm", and be a manager in the Premiership (in all likelihood, Swansea will survive there).
    There is no doubt that Lennon can spot a good player and his teams like to play on the carpet, like Rodgers has got Swansea going with great style.

  • Comment number 86.

    Congratulations Celtic .

    Like in all sport you can only compete and indeed beat who is put in front of you, and although not always pretty Celtic have done that.

    The Rangers debacle will always be a stick to hit Celtic over the head with, however do we honestly believe Celtic were not good enough in this league themselves, Rangers were simply not good enough.

    As for Neil Lennon he is now a league winning Manager ACCEPT IT !! You learn more about a manager when he loses - look at what he said when Killie won the Communities Cup last month for example - Now he is a winner what an opportunity for him to really grasp this by the horns, as Celtic should be dominant for the next few years.

    Like a host of personalities and leaders before him he brings out the best and indeed the worst in people, but alas through him we have been witness to the worst that Scottish Football has to offer the planet - Bullets, Bigotry and Bile.

    Not his fault of course, but what a platform he now has to rise above all this nonsense and steer himself and his Team to greater achievements - for Celtics` sake, for Scotlands` sake but ultimatley for any decent football fans sake.

    Sadly I won`t be holding my breath.

  • Comment number 87.

    Captainkatanga, hmmm not sure you're comparing like with like. Did Birmingham compete in the Europa league with premiership players, seeing as they'd just been relegated. I will concede that with the current squad available to Celtic, they would struggle in the premiership. But with the resources available to premiership or championship teams, they would be climbing the league quickly. Who would you sign for, Celtic or Bolton, west brom or Newcastle?

    I'll still go back to my point that Birmingham have players performing well, who weren't considered good enough for celtic or the Spl.

  • Comment number 88.


    Surely it's time for Kenny to demand more from his sorry mid-tablers. He and Liverpool certainly paid enough for them.

  • Comment number 89.


    If they're that good, why don't you ask your kid's team to teach you some grammar?

  • Comment number 90.

    Congratulations to Lennon and Celtic. But all this talk of a new dynasty is well wide of the mark. A fully fit confident Rangers squad would have won the league by 25 points and Neil would have been sent packing by Lawell by New Year. I've seen Celtic three times this season and on each occasion they won but by god they were poor and even their own fans were unhappy with what they were seeing.
    And before I get accused of being a bigoted blue nose - I'm not - Im a Dunfermline fan.

  • Comment number 91.

    Being a fox in a field of rabbits doesn't help when you go outside and meet the wolves and lion and tigers and bears........

  • Comment number 92.

    The prospect of a one horse race, possibly for the unseeable future, makes the whole league totally irrelevent. The clamour for Celtic to join the English league will get louder and louder

  • Comment number 93.

    Jimmac @ 80:

    "Can we get the Neil Lennon "success" into a little perspective here, please?
    what would Brendan Rodgers have done at Celtic, with the resources at Mr. Lennon's disposal?"

    Firstly I think Brendan Rodgers is a brilliant manager so will not argue with you on that one. But what could he do at Celtic? Probably just the exact as what Lennon did, and will likely achieve.

    Celtic (and Rangers until recently) are very much in limbo. They are too big for the league they play in so when they win the league people play down the achievement. But because they are in a small league, when it comes to Europe they cannot afford to compete with richer clubs. So they lose and everyone concludes they are poor teams.

    Realistically any manager coming into Celtic should be expected to aim to win the league, and try their best in Europe. Rodgers would no doubt have won the league this year as well, but I dont see any reason to suggest that we would fare any better in Europe. Just as the gap between celtic and the rest of the SPL is too great in financial terms, the gap between celtic and the European elite is also too great.

    Lennon has done what was expected of him and nothing more as regards results. But he has done it while attempts have been made on his life and while people have attacked him while doing his job. He deserves massive credit for sticking around to win the league when many others would have left.


    "A fully fit confident Rangers squad would have won the league by 25 points"

    Even if you are right (which I dont think you are) this is a rangers squad built by spending millions the club shouldnt have been spending. Dunfermline might have won the league this year by 25 points this season if they got themselves into over £120m of debt to fund success. It is hardly an argument to suggest a team could have won the league if they were 1.) fully fit, 2.) confident, and 3.) able to continue to spend beyond their means.

  • Comment number 94.

    Fair point Sparky but whilst the Old Firm are playing mainly pub teams every Saturday, Birmingham have to raise their game every week in the Championship: hence they went further in Europe.

  • Comment number 95.

    The argument made by some that Neil Lennon's achievement is worthless because of the disparity in resources can be applied to most leagues.

    If you read my blogs regularly you'll know my views on the issue of Celtic and Rangers v the rest of Scottish football in that regard.

    That is hardly Lennon's fault. As some have said he sets out to beat what is put in front of him. He has done that.

    Real and Barcelona, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea all have vast resources in comparison to others and their results by and large prove it.

  • Comment number 96.

    cheez jim do u know anything about football how on earth going forward are scottish teams going to get anywhere near the champs league riches which are distorting the game europe wide. do u know the meaning of the word co-efficient !!!! also tell wee charles to stop harping on about ebts being legal as he confirms his "coming out" in the current disgraceful situation his beloveds are in. the ethics behind these guys running around in the "aye ready" jersey for a discretionary loan every week is not supportable. if we include wee charles among the 50k ibrox faithful then from the administrators statement potentially 2k hypothicated has been taken from charles trousers over the period.I KNOW NONE OF U GUYS UNDERSTAND THE POSITION GERS ARE IN BUT READ THE CREDITORS VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION SECTION IN THE ADMINISTRATORS STATEMENT !!!we can start to introduce competition in our top league by having referees ref the games involving the old firm like the european refs do , the same for both teams. george salmonds subservient display at parkhead last week was apalling as he recorded "ice hockey style assists" in both celtic goals. we will get nowhere in europe until this issue is even considered in the scottish game. THOUSANDS MORE WILL DESERT THE NATIONAL GAME IF INTEGRITY IS ABANDONED AND THIS OPPORTUNITY IS MISSED. I FEAR THESE TWO MORRIS DANCERS AT HAMPDEN WILL B THOSE "PARCEL OF ROGUES" THOUGH.

  • Comment number 97.

    It has been quite interesting reading some of the comments on here. Now for some of my own:

    I have been extremely impressed with Neil Lennon staying with Celtic rather than leaving when he was having so much hatred spued at him by way of bombs, bullets, assaults etc. There are very few managers in world football that would stick around in the face of that. But, the way he behaves as manager of Celtic, reminds me of a petulant child.....If the child doesn't get their way, they throw a tantrum. Almost after every defeat (or so it seems), there is Neil Lennon blaming everybody else (The referee, The SPL, The media and on and on) instead of accepting that (mostly) his team were just not good enough. I commend him for not adding extra pressure to the players but, at times, it is bordering on pathetic. He reminds me of Arsene Wenger....only infinitely worse. And he is made to look even worse when you look at the manager on the other side of Glasgow and how he behaves. In my eyes, Ally probably has more reasons to complain about things given the dire state of his club but he always acts with dignity and class.

    As for Celtic winning a one-horse league race (well, since Rangers lost their form and then suffered the 10 point penalty), they can't be criticised for that as they can only play against what is put in front of them. It is not the players' fault that the opposition, generally, is inferior. Maybe if Rangers hadn't had the financial problems, they may have been able to win the League, maybe Celtic would have overhauled them anyway (take away the 10 point penalty and there was still a 23 point swing in favour of Celtic given they were 15 points behind at one point), maybe, maybe, maybe. Reality deals in facts and the fact is, Celtic won the League and should be congratulated for getting the job done.
    It will be interesting to see what the future holds. Whilst some argue that the SPL can still carry on without Rangers (this may or may not be tested depending on the next few months), there can be little doubt that the gap between the Old Firm and the rest widens slightly with each passing year. There, obviously, was hope that, with Rangers' woes, the voting veto may have been able to be altered so that the O.F. no longer decide everythingbut the Rangers Administrators appear to have put a stop to that talk. And, ultimately, that could be the downfall of the SPL because, as it becomes less and less competitive, it will become less and less attractive to sponsors and, most importantly, television networks. Without that money, they are in serious trouble.

    Ultimately, there needs to be major changes to the SPL but, as long as the Old Firm have complete control over all votes (ie, if they stick together nothing will ever change), I fear that nothing will ever change and I honestly think that in a few years time, rather than the Championship being more exciting, I fear that the Blue Square North and South will be more inviting.

  • Comment number 98.

    "Just as the gap between celtic and the rest of the SPL is too great in financial terms, the gap between celtic and the European elite is also too great"

    Its not about comparing Celtic with the European elite as they effectively stopped being one of this elite after Stein but its the playing gulf between them and even very average teams like Utrecht and Sion. Strachan had Celtic punching above their weight in the CL but the record of both Mowbray and Lennon in Europe can only be described as dire. Arguably, Mowbray has a just as good if not better record than Lennon and believe me that is saying something.

    These days all OF managers are 'chequebook' managers: they can afford to buy better quality and more of it than most of the other SPL teams put together. Celtic have been the only club in recent years who have lavished money on players. So European performances give us the only glimpse of how good OF teams actually are - the SPL is so poor and lacking in competition these days - and the performances recently have been abysmal.

  • Comment number 99.

    when fergie won his 2 champions league title he did not have a ryanair budget he spent big with many dud players.

    Jim, the only way for the spl to have wealth sharing system is be a closed league and be seperate from the sfl like the mls.

    scottish clubs will not compete in europe because the best players wont move to scotland due to the poor standards of football and wages.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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