Neil Lennon decided to accept his two game touchline ban for comments made after Celtic were not awarded a penalty in the closing minutes of the League Cup final against Kilmarnock when Anthony Stokes, clean through on goal, was tripped.
This was a hugely frustrating incident which had a critical bearing on the final. The SFA found Neil in breach of rule 68: “Making comments in an interview which criticise the performance of a match official in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence.” It’s worth pointing out that Neil suggested the referee’s decision was “criminal”, not biased or incompetent.
The other matter the Celtic manager was there to face was charges in relation to his conduct at Ibrox last month, when he was sent to the stand at half time for allegedly breaching rule 203: “No member of Team Staff shall commit Misconduct at a match, including but not limited to committing acts of the kind described in the Schedule of Offences in Annex C.”
After the game Neil Lennon said, “[The referees] are saying one thing; I’ve got witnesses to say another.”
On reviewing the evidence the SFA decided against applying a punishment while issuing a truly memorable statement, saying the will impose: “no further sanction on the basis that the half-game served out-with the technical area was sufficient”.
By the sound of it Neil was not bluffing when he said he had witnesses to counter evidence from the referee and fourth official. Under the circumstances any reasonable man could postulate his persecution was personal.
Perhaps the Scottish justice secretary should consider adding a fourth option for juries in burglary trials: guilty, not guilty, not proven and already punished as he had to hand the goods back.
More later on some truly remarkable Celtic supporters and the other matter as the crescendo builds.
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