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'It was a pressure season but we smashed it' - Neil Lennon targets perfect 10 as Celtic match nine-in-a-row mark

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Celtic boss Neil Lennon. Photo: Getty

Celtic boss Neil Lennon. Photo: Getty

Getty Images

Celtic boss Neil Lennon. Photo: Getty

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has set his sights on a record 10th title in a row after the club were confirmed as Premiership champions in a move which left relegated Hearts considering legal action.

The Scottish Professional Football League held a board meeting yesterday and announced the decision to end the season early. On Friday the 12 top-flight clubs had agreed that the campaign could not be completed.

A points per game average has been used to determine final placings, leaving Celtic's stranglehold on the trophy intact. When the coronavirus pandemic halted the competition on March 13 they had a 13-point lead over Rangers having played one more match.

Both Old Firm teams have a streak of nine titles in their past - Celtic from 1966 to 1974 and the Gers between 1989 and 1997 - leaving Lurgan man Lennon in pursuit of the perfect 10.

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"Going into the season we knew nine was within our grasp but it was still so far away, it was a pressure season but we smashed it," he admitted.

"To be stood here as manager with nine titles in a row is something you dream of."

Lennon admitted: "We were on track for 100 goals, we were on track for 100 points. The consistency, the exciting football, the brand we played . . . it was really pleasing.

"We were looking forward to the run-in and hoped to win the trophy in front of our supporters but it wasn't to be me. But it was a fantastic season and we were just itching for more.

"I can safely say now that we can go for the 10. I've been sitting on that for a while. When I got the job again last year fans were talking about 10 but we had to get to nine first. Going for the 10 is historic, momentous and we're all out to do it."

While there is no real disputing Celtic's right to the silverware, the picture at the bottom is less clear-cut. Hearts were four points behind second-bottom Hamilton with both sides having eight fixtures remaining.

The Edinburgh club have left open the possibility of legal action to the decision, saying in a statement: "We have stated from the outset that we don't believe it is right that any club should be unfairly penalised because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Hearts will shortly submit a member's resolution that we believe is a pragmatic solution to the issues the game currently faces and a way forward that the clubs can unite behind."

The issue of reconstructing the SPFL ladder and altering the composition of the divisions - a move which would have spared relegation - was considered before a lack of support from the Premiership became apparent earlier this month.

And Lennon believes the financial effects of the shutdown could yet bring that issue back to the table.

"From a football point of view I have a lot of sympathy for them (Hearts)," he said.

"(But) we may lose some clubs if we're not careful and if that's the case reconstruction may become inevitable."

The only change in the final standings sees St Johnstone leapfrog Hibernian into sixth.

Irish Independent