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Lennon's Cup conduct 'was out of order'

FORMER Celtic striker Andy Walker has branded Neil Lennon's behaviour "unacceptable" and blasted the Celtic board for condoning it.

Lennon raced onto the pitch to remonstrate with referee Euan Norris after he awarded Hearts a controversial injury-time penalty in last Sunday's Scottish Cup final, which Craig Beattie converted as the Edinburgh club won 2-1.

Walker, who won the double with Celtic in 1998, said: "I can understand his frustration because it wasn't a penalty kick. But that's no example to set from a Celtic manager. To run onto the pitch at the end of the game and intimidate the ref the way he did, I think that's unacceptable. It was never a penalty kick, but he gave it, and Neil Lennon should have a bit of frustration with regards to his own players.

"In a similar way to the League Cup final, Celtic passed up about five or six opportunities to score and that's the reason they lost."

Walker believes Parkhead directors are happy to let him keep firing their bullets and taking the heat because the club's "irresponsible" official policy is now that referees and the SFA are biased against them.

"In his managerial time in Celtic, there have been about six people up in court charged with assaults on Neil Lennon at various times," he added. "He leads an incredibly stressful life and I don't think any manager in Britain is under the type of pressure Neil Lennon is under.

"That is intolerable, but, with regard to his behaviour, it is condoned by the hierarchy at Celtic.

"They are quite happy to have him say what he feels with regard to referees. In all honesty, they encourage anything that comes out of Lennon's mouth.

"You are basically saying that referees are doing this deliberately and I don't believe that."