Friday 22 September 2017

Lennon urges fans to 'invest' in Celtic

Jamie Holland

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has urged the club and its supporters not to allow outside negative influences to have an impact ahead of the new season.

Lennon was referring to the situation surrounding Newco Rangers and the rejection of their application to play in the Scottish Premier League next season.

The blue half of the Old Firm are still unsure which level of the Scottish Football League ladder they will enter in the coming campaign.

Reigning champions Celtic were one of many SPL clubs to vote against Rangers' admission into the top flight but Lennon is keen to put the issue behind him and wants the fans to do the same.

"We cannot let outside negative influences dictate the mood at Celtic," Lennon said.

"We are very optimistic and we are very much looking forward to the season but we need our fans right with us.

"We are now looking forward and not back. We have a vibrant young team and I want to progress it as far as I can, but we cannot do this without the fans' support.

"We must now move on -- and move on with a collective unity between the supporters and the club and the team. We enjoyed that unity last season and we now need this to continue more than ever."

Reports have suggested that Celtic's financial stability is reliant on their Glasgow neighbours -- something the Parkhead club has rebuffed -- but Lennon admitted everyone needs to do their bit and implored supporters to keep following the team.

"We now know what the situation is and where we are and it is a situation we must now deal with," Lennon added. "We need to stand strong, shoulder to shoulder, and all work together to continue to move the club in the right direction.

"We will need the supporters to be right behind the team. We want as many fans as possible to come back to the club and take their seat at Celtic Park and invest in the club as much as possible."

The former Northern Ireland international refused to be drawn on whether he believes Rangers should enter the First Division or start from the bottom tier of the SFL, while also demanding that his players stay focused in the absence from the SPL of their main rivals.

"The club took its position on the Rangers situation last week along with all the other SPL clubs and it was confirmed that Rangers would not play in the SPL next season," he said.

"Clearly, in terms of where Rangers do play, that is now a matter for others to decide upon, it is something we have no control or influence over. Our priority is the same and we've approached the year the same way as ever.

"There will be no slacking off or complacency, we have a lot to look forward to and that's what we are preparing for, but I need to be very clear, we need our fans with us every step of the way."

Celtic are currently in Germany preparing for the upcoming season and one player on the trip has already outlined his immediate targets.

Wales international defender Adam Matthews is hoping to build on his first season at Celtic Park and establish himself as a member of Lennon's first team.

"I feel like I established myself in the squad last year so hopefully I can do it again this season," he said.

involved

Matthews has travelled to the continent despite suffering from a hamstring problem and is hoping to be fully involved as soon as possible.

He said: "Hopefully it won't keep me out too long. I started running recently so hopefully I'll be back in full training at the end of the week or the start of next week."

Meanwhile, international clearance for the transfers of Steve Davis, Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ness, Steven Whittaker and Steven Naismith has been put on hold as Newco Rangers continue to dispute the players' status. A number of Ibrox players, following advice from their union, PFA Scotland, rejected the chance to transfer their contracts from Rangers to Charles Green's Sevco consortium.

Green rejects the claim that the players are free agents and the former Sheffield United chief executive sent letters to clubs across the UK warning them that the players who objected to the switch to Sevco were in breach of contract.

However, that didn't stop Naismith moving to Everton, Whittaker to Norwich and Ness to Stoke, while Northern Irish duo Davis and Lafferty are now at Southampton and Swiss side Sion respectively.

The Scottish FA procedurally cannot complete the international transfer clearance (ITC), as it has to be signed by all parties.

But the association to which the players are affiliated can request temporary registration from FIFA to allow the player to play during the period of arbitration.

Irish Independent

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