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'Joke' sending-off forces Lennon to watch second half in press room

Celtic manager Neil Lennon can expect to be contacted by the Scottish Football Association's compliance officer Vincent Lunny yet again after claiming that the match officials conspired to prevent him doing his job at Ibrox yesterday.

The Irishman was ordered from the dugout before the second half began after criticising referee Calum Murray's first-half display.

Murray had shown a straight red card to Celtic full-back Cha Du Ri for preventing a goalscoring opportunity when he pushed Lee Wallace to the ground on the edge of the penalty area, a decision that enraged Lennon.

"What's my biggest frustration? What do you think?" he asked, rhetorically.

"The first red card is not a sending-off, the second one is borderline, although you can't tackle like that.

"My sending-off is a joke. I spoke quite quietly and coolly to the referee in the tunnel. I didn't swear, I didn't point any fingers -- and I've got witnesses.

"I did my team talk at half-time, I'm walking back out and I'm called in to the referee's room and told I can't do my job. That, to me, is the most galling one of the lot.

"I went into see the ref at half-time. He said, 'You were warned about your behaviour.' I said, 'Yeah, but what was wrong with my behaviour in the tunnel?'

"I didn't get an answer. After the game, I wanted to see him. I got a message back to wait 20 minutes and then I could go and see him. Twenty minutes later, he wouldn't see me.

"So who is accountable? Why do I not get an explanation in the biggest game of the season? You tell me."

Lennon was forced to watch the second 45 minutes on television in the media room after being advised that his presence in the stand could result in him being assaulted. "I watched the second half in the press room," he said. "The biggest game of the season and I can't go out into the stand to watch my team, send down messages.

"I can't get a view of the game because it's only on the screen. So I might as well have sat in the house and watched the second half. Security advised me not to go into the stand. I would have been happy to go out but I was told that, for my own safety, it wasn't a good idea."

Rangers manager Ally McCoist, meanwhile, claimed that he and his players were more concerned with rewarding their supporters for their loyalty with a victory than they were with preventing Celtic from clinching the championship at Ibrox.

"I'm obviously delighted with the result and the performance," said McCoist.

"It wasn't about stopping Celtic doing anything, though: we won it for us and for our fans." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent