Celtic manager Neil Lennon stated his disappointment over the banner display ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League group game against AC Milan, on what he claimed should have been a pre-match celebration event instead at Celtic Park.
The Northern Irishman said: “I quite like going out before the game and soaking up the atmosphere because you never know when you will have that opportunity again, it´s not guaranteed you will play in the UEFA Champions League every year.
“But my heart sank a little bit I have to say. I think there were other areas in the stadium where the supporters were scratching their heads trying to understand their reasoning behind it.
“Since then we know the reasons behind it but it certainly wasn’t the time or the place for a display like that. There was no place for it on Tuesday. It should have been a celebration rather than people having a grumble about something.
“When I came in here I tried to bring the club together again and I think I´ve done that, certainly with the performances over the last three or four years. So it´s disappointing to see people want to bring cracks in amongst the club. It´s not welcome within the stadium. We understand you maybe have legitimate complaints over some of the laws brought in, but Celtic Park is not the place to bring banners in and display that.
“We´re a football club at the end of the day, and multicultural as well I might add, so I think we need to put a stop to it.”
Despite Lennon’s calls to end the political nature of the displays in the stadium, the supporters group responsible for the display which has seen Celtic hauled up in front of UEFA once again, the Green Brigade, have labelled Lennon a ‘poodle’ of the PLC and chief executive Peter Lawwell.
On the official Green Brigade forum, one member H67 said: “If Lennon never understood the banners he must be thick, he has done a poor job as manager and instead of sticking up for the fans he has a wee jibe. If you do a sh*te job as manager of a club you would think you would try and get the support on-side, but nope, not Lenny-Bhoy he just has a wee go at fans. Just shows how safe his job is as he’s the PLC’s poodle.”
Another labelled Lennon a ‘brown noser’, The Lonesome Boatman was venemous in his criticism of Lennon, he added: ” F**k Lennon and f**k what he thinks. His team is an embarrassment, his twitter account is a f**king riddy and for what it’s worth I think he’s a backstabbing, brown nosing, PLC loving C**T.”
The Green Man, called on Lennon to keep his opinions to himself, he continued: “Why cant the man just keep his opinion sorry….. the PLCS opinion to himself? He doesnt have to have a say about any of it he should learn to start closing his mouth or saying no comment. He has turned into a right pussy after all of thes [sic]death threats etc am sorry to say that but its true.”
However, risking the wrath of his fellow members one Green Brigader backed Lennon and his comments, jpfc77 said: “Have to agree with Neil Lennon on this one. When Ireland is trying to move on and peace returning after all the murders and deaths over the years.
“A group of supporters decide they can display a banner which not only puts the club under the spotlight in a negative fashion but stirs up hate against supporters of the club from other quarters. Yes we all have political views but are they really needed at a football match? And also after the recent spotlight already on the GB, I really have to question why the hell would they want to risk being banned again.
“I’m not saying lawell and Lennon are the ideal people for Celtic. But I find this totally disrespectful to putting our fellow fans in the spotlight over a political view of a minority of fans.
“If Rangers had unfurled A banner with say Ian paisley or someone else from the unionist movement, we would have felt slightly offended also. Politics like this have no place at Celtic. I’m all for remembering the victims of the struggles but this is absolutely disrespectful. I used and still do admire the gb for what they bring but I’m afraid they have overstepped the mark on this one. Grow up, suck up your pride, THE GB do not own our club, neither are they better or worse than any other punter.. In other words get a fekn grip and show some respect for yourselves, the club and more importantly US supporters.”
It will be interesting to see if the Green Brigade heed Lennon’s calls or just ignore him and carry on as they are.