Abuse is unacceptable, says Lennon

Last Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 - 11:05

London: Celtic manager Neil Lennon said the abuse he suffered at Saturday`s League Cup semi-final at Tynecastle as "disappointing" and "unacceptable".

The Hoops boss was speaking just a day after he and coach Gary Parker had been forced to leave the Scottish League Cup semi-final between Aberdeen and St Johnstone early after suffering a torrent of abuse.

Lennon was spat at, had coins thrown at him and was the subject of verbal abuse while sitting as a spectator in the main stand watching the Dons, who Celtic take on in the Scottish Cup next weekend.

The incident, which happened next to the Aberdeen section of support in the main stand, has been condemned by Celtic, Aberdeen and Scottish Professional Football League chief Executive Neil Doncaster.

It took place at the same venue that Lennon was infamously confronted on the pitch by a Hearts supporter, who was later jailed for breach of the peace, during an ill-tempered match at Tynecastle in 2011.

"It was very disappointing and uncomfortable," the Celtic manager said of the abuse.

"I was there with two of my staff and it was a great atmosphere. I don`t want to take anything away from Aberdeen as at the end of the day it was a great day for them but it was just a section of supporters who probably have had far too much to drink.

"I don`t think it`s sectarian either, by the way, I just think it`s drink-fuelled and, yes, it is unacceptable.

"About 30 minutes into the game a coin whistled past my head and actually hit a gentleman in front of me on the back and he was an Aberdeen fan.

"Thankfully he wasn`t hurt as he had a padded coat on but he was obviously aware of it and handed the coin to a steward.

"At half-time we thought about leaving but they told us they had seats closer to the press box.

"You don`t mind the abuse as you can take that and you get that up and down the country but when the third goal went in a drink - I don`t know what it was - flew over our heads and went into the press box and hit a couple of journalists there.

"We weren`t forced to leave but we decided then it was best to leave for our own safety and for the safety of the people sitting around us.

"It was a neutral game and a semi-final and I was there doing my job as we play Aberdeen next week. I was at Motherwell the week before watching Aberdeen and I`ve been all up and down the country and I`ve never had to put up with that before.

"It makes me think twice about going to games if that`s the kind of thing that`s going to happen. Someone could`ve been hit in the eye with a coin and it`s just not on.

"There will come a time when enough is enough and you maybe need to look at something else in your life if you can`t go to a game and enjoy it."

Lennon, 42, has been the victim of a number of other crimes during his spell as player, coach and manager of Celtic.

Two students were fined after Lennon was attacked in his car in Glasgow in May 2003. A year later, threatening graffiti was daubed outside his home.

In September 2008, he was treated in hospital after being attacked hours after an Old Firm game. Two men were later jailed for two years each.

A package of bullets addressed to Lennon was intercepted at a sorting office in Country Antrim in January 2011. Two men were jailed for five years in April 2012 for sending Lennon parcel bombs.

AFP

First Published: Monday, February 3, 2014 - 11:05

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