Football/Soccer

'Absolute hypocrisy' - Neil Lennon hits back at criticism of Celtic's Dubai trip

Celtic manager Neil Lennon pictured during the Scottish Premiership Old Firm clash at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow on Saturday January 2, 2021. Picture by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon has confirmed another Celtic player has tested positive for Covid-19 as he angrily hit back at criticism of the club's controversial trip to Dubai.

The Celtic boss missed the 1-1 draw against Hibernian and last Saturday's goalless draw with Livingston at Parkhead as he was self-isolating following the mid-season training camp.

Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 players had to isolate after Christopher Jullien tested positive for coronavirus and chief executive Peter Lawwell admitted the trip was "a mistake" and apologised to Hoops fans.

Yesterday the Celtic manager faced the media for the first time since returning from his isolation period and Lennon slammed his critics.

Ahead of tomorrow's trip to Livingston, Lennon responded to a question about his time self-isolating by saying: "It has been interesting watching the fall-outs, the media and the attacks on the club."

He then said: "Another player has been deemed positive, it is someone who is self-isolating.

"Everyone is negative bar two players.

"I think that is remarkable and blows out the water the way the trip has been portrayed in certain quarters of the media, by certain pundits and by certain government officials as well.

"We didn't abuse any 'privilege', we did the right things, we were totally professional.

"We had a little drink in the afternoon on the day of, completely allowed, no law breaking.

"But we come back to this barrage of absolute hypocrisy."

"It's not as if they were doing a conga in the dressing room and dancing to Baccara - or travelling a train journey from Glasgow to London with Covid.

"The fallout from this has been way too much - there's a bit of bullying going on."

The Scottish national team were captured on video doing a conga after their victory over Serbia in the Nations League play-off final back in November.

The video, posted on the national team Twitter account, showed the players in a line behind shootout hero David Marshall.

Lennon continued: "My apology is to the fans because 13 players and three staff had to isolate which is ludicrous.

"I'm not apologising for anything else.

"I'm not apologising for going out there and training for a week. I'm not apologising for the players having a day off."

Lennon also addressed comments made by former Celtic striker Andy Walker who, speaking in his role as a pundit for Sky Sports, criticised the club for "dismal governance" over the trip, which he labelled "a jolly".

Lennon took issue with the comments made which he said questioned his ''professionalism and my players' professionalism.''

"About 70-80 per cent of the group are teetotal and you know the inference and innuendo that he is making. It is not a stag do, it isn't an '18-30' even though it has been portrayed like that,'' he said.

"We went out there with the best intentions.

"The lads had one day off and they are entitled to a bit of down time."

Celtic later released a statement confirming that one player from the isolating group of 16 has tested positive.

''The Club can confirm that following the most recent round of COVID-19 testing, everyone within the playing squad involved last Monday and Saturday have again recorded negative tests.

''The isolating group of 16 people have all recorded negative tests, apart from one player. The player will continue to isolate and we wish him a speedy recovery.

''We can confirm that all other players and management staff have now returned to training.''

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Football/Soccer