"Sitting there pontificating"; Celtic boss' most extraordinary exchange today came with BBC man

By John McGinley

January 18, 2021

A lot has already been said about the Neil Lennon press conference with reporters today.

However, many of the comments have been published fractured and out of context.

BBC Radio Scotland took the unprecedented step of broadcasting the entire conference on Sportsound tonight, giving listeners full insight into what was said and what questions were asked.

The most extraordinary exchange came with BBC Scotland reporter Kheredine Idessane, who was intent on digging into the entire Dubai debacle.

When questioned on the protocols in place to keep Covid at bay, Lennon said, after pointing out there is inconsistency across Scottish football: “As soon as Celtic are deemed to do something wrong, you’re all wanting blood, it’s absolutely scandalous.”

Idessane would respond, before being interrupted: “It’s not so much a bloodlust, well certainly-”

Lennon angrily hit back, stating: “That’s your opinion Kheredine, not from where I’m sitting.”

After the manager went on to apologise to supporters for the chaos that unfolded, Idessane enquired whether apologies were due to other clubs in Scotland for the reputational damage done to Scottish football.

The Bhoys boss responded: “What reputational damage has it done, Kheredine? Compared to Raith Rovers, compared to Hamilton, compared to Kilmarnock, compared to Motherwell, compared to Aberdeen. What reputational damage has it done?”

It was pointed out to Lennon that the First Minister and her Deputy stated the trip shouldn’t have gone ahead, to which the manager countered: “Well why didn’t they stop us from going then?

“We flew out on the Saturday, the country went into full lockdown on the Monday, you can’t tell me the Government didn’t know we were going into lockdown when we flew out on the Saturday.

When asked if Celtic should have better weighed up the risk and reward of the trip, Lennon declared: “That’s alright in hindsight Kheredine, but at the time we felt it was worth it. You know, you’re sitting there pontificating to me like the rest of you all there. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing. We’ve been held to a higher standard.”

Neil Lennon press conference has done more harm than good

We should be clear, the Scottish Government hardly come out of this affair smelling of roses either. Neil Lennon may well have some good points to make regarding the timeline of conversations and arrangements with officials.

However, he’s communicating it in a terrible way.

He came across angry and bitter in his press conference. That’s never what you want a Celtic manager to project.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

I’m unsure why he couldn’t have come out and sought to draw a line under the whole affair.

All Lennon has done has spun this drama on for another news cycle or two. It again sends Celtic into the headlines of national news broadcasts.

Celtic didn’t need this today. Supporters didn’t either.

In other news, Lennon is not thinking of leaving the club anytime soon.