"We see the sporting benefits" claims Celtic manager as Dubai criticism builds

By Euan Davidson

January 5, 2021

Much has been made of Celtic and the decision to hold a mid-season trip in Dubai.

Now, Neil Lennon has fired back. The Scottish Government and at other critics had condemned the club’s foreign travels today. In the midst of tighter lockdown restrictions, it has been a dreadful PR move from Celtic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon openly questioned the Bhoys’ winter training camp, saying:

“For me, the question for Celtic – and I try to be diplomatic here – is not so much are they overseas at a training camp.

“As I understand it, we gave advice to the SFA about the rules around elite training camps back in November last year. It’s not our role to sign off, agree or not agree what football clubs do in terms of training camps. We set out what the rules are.

“The rules have been that elite sports can go overseas for training camps if that’s important in the context of their training for competitions.”

Now, though, in quotes attributed to the Scottish Sun, Celtic manager Neil Lennon has answered criticisms of the controversial training camp.

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, Dubai bound / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic manager responds to criticism

Lennon said (Scottish Sun):

“We are sure the camp will be really important for us.

“It is the same format as previous years, obviously with one significant difference being the protocols in place for COVID. But we hope that we get the same lift from it and can go on another great run in the New Year as we did last season. That’s our real focus just now.

“As the club said yesterday, the camp was arranged some time ago, with the full consultation of the footballing authorities and given approval by the Scottish Government.

“Of course, we understand that we are in very unique and difficult times. There are now even tougher restrictions in place at home. But the camp is risk assessed and arranged in conjunction with Scottish football’s Joint Response Group.

“We have put in place all the appropriate protocols. We have undertaken the camp as we see the sporting benefits from it. [We] hope it can do for us what it has done in the past.

“From the first day of camp yesterday and into today, the boys have been working tremendously hard as we always do on a camp which has served us so well over recent seasons.

“And that will be the format for the rest of the week. Very tough, but productive and important sessions to get us ready for the second half of the season.”