Neil Lennon handed 'severe censure' by SFA

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The Independent Football

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has escaped with a "severe censure" following his latest appearance before a Scottish Football Association committee.

Lennon was warned about his future conduct by the general purposes committee after being asked to explain his comments following a defeat by Rangers in October.

Celtic striker Gary Hooper was handed a £2,000 fine for comments he made about referees, but the punishment was suspended for 18 months.

Lennon encountered a more lenient punishment at his second personal appearance at Hampden within a week after previously being handed a six-match touchline ban by the disciplinary committee.

Celtic's lawyers are preparing an appeal against that suspension, for Lennon's banishment to the stand during a defeat by Hearts, but the Irishman could still face more action after comments following that loss.

Lennon was today asked to explain comments he made following the Parkhead derby defeat on October 24.

The Parkhead boss criticised referee Willie Collum over the penalty he awarded to Rangers and his failure to send off Lee McCulloch during Celtic's 3-1 Clydesdale Bank Premier League defeat.

Hooper, who also made a personal appearance today, claimed in a press conference in November that referees gave decisions against Celtic because they were "one of the biggest clubs in the world".

Lennon's comments following the 2-0 defeat by Hearts on November 10 were not on today's agenda but the committee could return to them at a later date.

Lennon described as "scandalous" and "ridiculous" a rejected penalty claim for a Ryan Stevenson handball, which sparked his angry reaction, and Joe Ledley's red card.

The former Celtic captain also claimed the match officials "probably have their story ready already" - an apparent reference to Dougie McDonald's false account of why he rescinded a penalty awarded to Celtic against Dundee United.

McDonald later quit as a top-flight referee while accusing the general purposes committee of being too lenient in their action against managers over the years.