Neil Lennon tries to focus on Celtic win after attack
Thursday 12 May 2011
Celtic manager Neil Lennon focused on his team's success after he was attacked by a fan in the 3-0 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.
After Gary Hooper scored his second goal in the 49th minute, a supporter came out of the main stand and made straight for Lennon, sparking a fracas which also involved first-team coach Alan Thompson, police and stewards.
The intruder was marched up the tunnel by police and arrested, but Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan and his Scottish Premier League counterpart Neil Doncaster will meet today to discuss how the incident was allowed to occur, while Hearts have opened a full investigation.
However, Lennon preferred to heap praise on his team for keeping their Clydesdale Bank Premier League title dream alive with one match remaining.
Late last night, the Celtic boss wrote on his Twitter page: "Don't let what happened to me tonight take the shine off a wonderful team performance... I don't walk alone."
The arrested man was being held today with police authorities claiming there was little they could do to stop last night's incident.
Les Gray, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation which represents more than 17,000 officers, told BBC Radio Five Live: "There isn't a lot you can do to prevent an incident like that.
"This is an individual who has taken it upon himself to attack and it's absolutely horrendous.
"But unfortunately from a policing point of view, unless you've got a ring of steel around that park and block the view for quite a number of fans, there isn't a lot you can do to prevent it.
"We always knew it was going to be a feisty game - that's football.
"There is nothing that justifies someone going onto a pitch and physically attacking Neil Lennon or anybody else - that's criminal behaviour, it is nothing to do with football.
"Whatever else you say about Neil Lennon's behaviour, that's football, this is a criminal act. You can't compare the two."
Lennon's assistant Johan Mjallby and Hearts boss Jim Jefferies said they would not blame him from walking away from the game in Scotland.
Mjallby said: "He is a strong character, he has coped with 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'm shocked and Neil must be even more afraid. What if he (the supporter) had something in his hand?
"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."
Jefferies also believes Lennon might get fed up with the game if the problems continue.
He said: "For what he has had to contend with, I wouldn't blame him for walking away."
Meanwhile, two men were being held by police in connection with an investigation into parcel bombs sent to Lennon and to two high-profile supporters of the club.
Two bombs were sent to Lennon and one each to lawyer Paul McBride QC and former MSP Trish Godman.
The men, aged 41 and 43, were detained under the Explosives Substances Act 1883 after officers raided a number of properties in Kilwinning, Ayrshire.
The police operation was launched at around 6am today.
Last month Strathclyde Police said the two packages sent to Lennon, and the two others, were "designed to cause real harm to the person who opened them".
A fifth suspect package, addressed to the offices of Cairde Na H'Eireann (Friends of Ireland) in Glasgow, was also intercepted by officers last month.
A 26-year-old man is due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today in connection with the attempted attack on Lennon.
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