Football/Soccer

Celtic hand Neil Lennon a second vote of confidence

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is under serious pressure but the club have backed him - until the new year...

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been told his job is safe for the rest of the year.

Lennon has been handed his second public vote of confidence inside a week.

Disgruntlement among the Celtic support further intensified after Celtic drew 1-1 with St Johnstone on Sunday to leave themselves 13 points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers with two games in hand.

But the Celtic board has released another statement making clear its "continuing support for Neil and his backroom team".

The statement added: "Whilst it has been suggested that it is time for a change, at this stage in the season the board believes that Neil and his management team are best placed to turn the team's performances around and lead us on to success.

"The board continues to work closely with Neil and his team to support them as they seek to do so and progress will be reviewed in the new year."

The Hoops have not won in five matches and have only recorded two victories in 12 games – conceding 28 goals in the process – but the board have opted for continuity to help turn that form around.

The club statement added: "The board recognises and understands the importance of winning the league championship this season and that, as Neil himself has made clear, recent performances and results have been disappointing. The board is committed to delivering success for Celtic supporters.

"The board has carefully considered the current circumstances and the challenges that we are faced with, not least the pressure on the management and players to deliver the 10th championship in a row that is so important to us all.

"Equally important is to continue to operate according to our club's values.

"The board has come to the conclusion that our collective objective is best served by continuing to support Neil and his team as they seek solutions for those challenges.

"Neil has the support of the players and staff at the club. He understands the pressure and the environment.

"As his outstanding record as a manager, captain and player demonstrates, he knows what it takes to be successful at Celtic and he has delivered success with many of the current squad of players, who understand his method and approach."

A home defeat by Ross County in the Betfred Cup the previous Sunday sparked angry scenes outside Celtic Park with police reporting three injuries for their officers and the club claiming players were left "shaken" after being targeted by missiles.

After defeat by AC Milan and more dropped Premiership points, there were again protests on Sunday amid a heavy police presence with footage showing fans running after the team buses to express their displeasure.

But the Parkhead power-brokers have stood by Lennon, who can clinch last season's treble on December 20 when Celtic face Hearts in the delayed William Hill Scottish Cup final.

The club statement added: "The board wishes to take this opportunity to thank all Celtic supporters for their support during this challenging year. The response of the support to the challenges that we all face together has been magnificent.

"It is therefore important to make clear that the board has never, as it has been inaccurately reported, referred to any Celtic supporter as 'entitled'.

"The board recognises the range of views expressed by our supporters and the strength of those opinions.

"Whilst there may not always be agreement, there is certainly a common goal – the success of Celtic Football Club – and we will continue to work together to seek to achieve that success."

Already-eliminated Celtic host Europa League Group H leaders Lille on Thursday before welcoming Kilmarnock to Parkhead on Sunday.

They then take on Hearts at Hampden before facing Ross County, Hamilton and Dundee United ahead of their trip to Ibrox on January 2.

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Football/Soccer