Celtic manager Neil Lennon faces three charges


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Celtic manager Neil Lennon will face three charges over his reaction to the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts, the Scottish Football Association revealed today.

Lennon has been issued with a notice of complaint accusing him of breaching three SFA rules relating to Hearts' 2-1 victory at Hampden, which came courtesy of Craig Beattie's controversial late penalty.

Lennon, who was hit with a two-match touchline ban last week over a separate incident, has seven days to respond with an SFA hearing pencilled in for May 10.

Lennon has been hit with a misconduct charge, which relates to offences including aggressive behaviour and insulting language towards a match official.

The Celtic manager ran onto the Hampden pitch to confront referee Euan Norris over the penalty award, which came when a Marius Zaliukas shot hit the arm of Joe Ledley and then brushed against Victor Wanyama. Celtic were then denied a penalty when the ball struck Hearts defender Andy Webster.

Lennon has also been hit with two charges relating to comments made on Twitter.

The Hoops boss, who did not conduct any post-match interviews, tweeted soon after the game: "Referee told players he thought Wanyama handled...feel so sorry for players and fans..I think it's personal myself."

He then re-tweeted a comment from a Celtic supporter which suggested the club "pack our bags and get out of this league that is run by crooked £SFA officials".

The online comments will see him face two charges, including an alleged breach of rule 68 which forbids criticism of match officials in a way that indicates bias or incompetence or impinges on his character. The rule specifically includes comments made on a "social networking or micro-blogging site".

Lennon is also accused of breaching rule 71 by not acting in the best interests of football or acting in an improper manner.

Lennon is halfway through his touchline ban for breaching rule 68 by accusing referee Willie Collum of a "criminal" decision not to give his team a late penalty in their previous trip to Hampden, a 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock in the Scottish Communities League cup final last month.

The Irishman received no further punishment after being hit with a misconduct charge relating to his clash with match officials at Ibrox, which saw him sent from the dugout halfway through Celtic's 3-2 Clydesdale Bank Premier League defeat by Rangers.

The SFA's compliance officer, Vincent Lunny, also wrote to the Celtic manager asking him to explain comments made after the Rangers game about hoping for a decent referee performance against St Johnstone the following weekend, although there are suggestions that matter may be dropped.