'I'm no traitor' -- Lennon tackles offensive fans
NEIL LENNON yesterday declared that he was "no traitor" for calling upon the Green Brigade -- the group of Celtic supporters who have been identified by the club as the source of persistently offensive songs and chants in support of the IRA -- to desist from the practice.
Celtic have been cited by UEFA for "illicit chanting" by fans during their 3-1 Europa League victory over Rennes recently, while police are investigating other reported instances during the 2-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle last month.
Lennon is hoping to meet representatives of the group, who became prominent when chief executive Peter Lawwell invited them to congregate in one area of Parkhead in an attempt to energise the home support. However, the move has rebounded as a consequence of persistent complaints -- including many from other Celtic supporters -- about the content of the songs and chants that emanate from their section.
When it was suggested to the manager that the fans responsible for the songs and chants would regard themselves as the heart and soul of the club, Lennon replied: "There is no doubt about that, but there are lines that you cannot cross and I think these lines are being crossed by a minority.
"The majority of Celtic supporters want to be able to enjoy their day out. They don't enjoy it when the reputation of the club is being dragged through the mud.
"I think the fans can be proud of the reputation of the club -- which they have created themselves. They have been a credit to the club, 99.9pc of them. They have behaved impeccably.
"I do think the guys in the North Stand have made such a difference. They are a little bit militant at times, I'll give them that, but in the main they have added so much colour and enjoyment to our games. There are maybe 100-200 in there who want to sing the offensive songs, and we are pleading with them to stop. We are getting dragged through the mud as a club because of it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)