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Neil Lennon attacked by Hearts Fan

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon was attacked by a Hearts fan, during his side’s 3-0 win over Hearts at Tynecastle. The fan made his way from the Hearts section of the main stand after Gary Hooper scored Celtic’s second goal of the game and made a beeline for the Celtic boss who was in front of the Celtic dugout.

The so-called fan attacked Lennon before being hauled to the ground by Celtic coach Alan Thompson, Police and Stewards. The attacker was handcuffed and arrested before being dragged down the tunnel. Neil Lennon was in shock for the remainder of the match due to the attack.

SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan issued a statement, saying: “Clearly this kind of behaviour from supporters is wholly unacceptable. The safety of players, club officials and match officials is paramount on or around the field of play, and this clear breach of security is a matter I will be discussing with SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster tomorrow.”

Hearts vowed to give their full cooperation to the authorities. A club statement read: “An investigation into events which took place in the second half of tonight’s game against Celtic is now under way. Hearts is a club which prides itself on its ‘football for all’ policy and these sorts of actions have no place in the game of football. We will give our full support to the stewards and police authorities in the ensuing investigation into the events at tonight’s match.”

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster agreed that such acts have no place in the game. He said in a statement: “The SPL deplores the actions of the individual involved. This type of behaviour has no place in Scottish football. The SPL will undertake a full investigation and will be reviewing reports from the SPL match delegate, match officials, the police and the clubs.”

The attack sparked trouble in the main stand as Celtic fans tried to get at the Hearts fans, trying to fight their way through Police and Stewards. During the attack some Hearts fans were actually cheering the attack on Lennon, and at Full Time he was booed off the park by the home supporters.

Celtic assistant Mjallby said on the attack: “He is a strong character, he has coped with so much. The backroom staff are desperate for him to continue but no-one could blame him if he decided not to. I would never blame him whatever he does. I was watching out of the corner of my eye and Thommo (Alan Thompson) reacted. Neil Lennon defended himself, of course he would. You can’t call this person a supporter. I’m shocked and Neil must be even more afraid. What if he had something in his hand?”

“We are very lucky the players took the championship to the final day but it is too early to say how Neil will react. I am shocked myself, I see it on television all over the world but I haven’t seen it myself. We all have to look into this, a manager should be secure inside a football ground.”

Jim Jefferies commented on the attack: “It was unbelievable. For someone to try and deliberately attack another person on the touchline is nothing short of disgraceful. There was a bit of hostility in the air and the atmosphere tonight, but I don’t think anyone thought that it would result in what happened.”

Jim also confirmed his hope that the club would not face sanctions from the authorities.

“I’m sure the club will work fully with the police and the relevant authorities and we’ll make sure this sort of shocking thing never happens again. It should never get to this. We were looking forward to a good celebratory atmosphere tonight and unfortunately it never turned out that way.”

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed a man has been arrested following the attack on Lennon.

Throughout his Celtic career Neil Lennon has been targeted by the dregs of society. This season alone he has been physically assaulted, he has been sent FIVE Parcel Bombs, not to mention a package containing bullets.

Sadly the issue is not helped by opposition fans and members of the mainstream media, who claim that Neil Lennon brings it upon himself with his demeanor, his comments in the media and his over-exuberance on the touchline. This NEVER gives ANYONE the right to attack anyone let alone Neil Lennon.

If Neil Lennon walks away at the end of the season, no one can really blame him, however this would be giving into these scum.

Questions must now be asked of the stewarding and policing at Tynecastle – where were the stewards beside the Celtic dugout? What if the so-called fan had a knife? We wouldn’t be talking about an assault tonight.

Once again our game has been overshadowed by the scum element within. This issue is no longer just an Old Firm one. The Football and Civil authorities must act now before it goes any further, it is certainly not the first time he has been targeted and we know that it won’t be the last either. Act now or the consequences of inaction will be deadly.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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