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Celtic condemn Parkhead protests after missiles targeted at 'shaken' players

There were calls for manager Neil Lennon to go after Celtic fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to Ross County.

Fans gather in protest at Celtic Park.
Fans gather in protest at Celtic Park.
Image: PA

Updated Nov 29th 2020, 10:01 PM

CELTIC WILL INVESTIGATE protests outside Parkhead after revealing some players had been left “shaken” after being targeted by missiles from their own fans.

Hundreds gathered to protest outside Celtic Park after a 2-0 Betfred Cup defeat by Ross County – the club’s first domestic cup defeat in 36 matches stretching back to April 2016.

Supporters called for the departure of manager Neil Lennon and players also came in for abuse from some fans as they left in convoy in their vehicles amid a heavy police presence.

A Celtic statement read: “Everyone at the club is hugely disappointed by this afternoon’s result, one which has ended our phenomenal run of 35 consecutive cup victories.

“While we sincerely share the huge disappointment of all Celtic supporters, there can be no excuse for some of the violent scenes at Celtic Park this evening. The club will be investigating these events fully.

“For players and a management team, who have given so much in recent years and have delivered 11 consecutive trophies, to require an escort from Celtic Park while being targeted with missiles, is simply unacceptable.

“While we understand that only a small number of people were involved in this behaviour, some of the actions this evening, which have obviously left our own players shaken, cannot be condoned in any way.”

Chants of “Lennon, Lennon, get to f***” were clearly audible as the Celtic manager walked into his post-match media conference as the pressure mounted on the former Hoops skipper following a run of two wins in 10 matches.

A police helicopter circled overhead and more than a dozen police vans lined up outside the main stand with a number of other police vehicles parked nearby.

Footage on social media showed some fans kicking down temporary barriers that were quickly erected to separate them from those leaving the stadium, and police said two of their officers had been injured in the disturbances.

Superintendent Stevie Dolan said: “Around 4.30pm on Sunday, 29 November, a large number of fans started to gather outside Celtic Park to protest.

“An appropriate policing response was carried out and the group has now dispersed.

“No arrests have been made, however two officers sustained minor injuries as a result of the actions of the gathered group.

“We strongly condemn these actions and remind fans that enforcement options remain at our disposal.

“The Scottish Government regulations are clear that protests are prohibited in areas under level four restrictions and we would urge people to find alternative ways to protest to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Disorder of any sort will not be tolerated and appropriate action will be taken where any offences are identified.”

Lennon, meanwhile, believes he should get more time to turn Celtic’s form around. 

A 2-0 second-round loss ended a 35-game winning run for Celtic in domestic cups and heightened the panic among a growing element of the Hoops support that their quest for 10 in a row is doomed unless there is a change of manager.

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Celtic can win a 12th consecutive domestic trophy when they take on Hearts in last season’s delayed Scottish Cup final on 20 December but a run of two wins in 10 matches has put Lennon under severe pressure.

The Hoops boss showed no sign of quitting after the defeat and, when asked if he would understand if the Celtic board took the decision to remove him, Lennon said: “No, I think it’s too soon for that. We have lost one trophy, that’s gone. Our priority is the league, it always is, every time we come into a season.

“We are out of Europe, so it’s not been great, but there’s plenty of time to turn it around. But it’s alright me saying that, we have to show it with action now.

“I think I should get more time at it but, if not, then so be it.”

Albian Ajeti and substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi missed great chances after Ross Stewart’s 39th-minute penalty.

But Celtic looked a team largely lacking in ideas and confidence and their hopes were extinguished when Alex Iacovitti headed home following an 84th-minute corner.

celtic-v-ross-county-scottish-premier-league-celtic-park Neil Lennon. Source: PA

“It doesn’t make me feel good obviously. We are not in a good moment”, said Lennon. 

“The game is a small microcosm of the run we are on: penalty and set-play. We have given the opposition free hits.

“We dominated the game and lacked a bit of quality in the final third.”

When asked what would he would say to the supporters outside, Lennon said: “What can I say? That’s their opinion. It’s been rumbling for a while.

“It doesn’t matter what I say or what sort of bravado I put on. It won’t wash. I have to turn it around with results. I can only do that with the players.

“We had a really good meeting on Saturday. It was powerful and a lot of good stuff came out of it.

“There was a good ambience and atmosphere coming into the game but we just aren’t making it happen at the moment.

“Do I see myself as the man to lead the team? Of course. I believe in myself.

“I am not always going to harp on about what I have done in the past.

“We are in the present and I know the expectations from the supporters and the board for the club.

“I am falling short of that at the minute, me and my backroom team.”

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