Celtic: Neil Lennon hopes fans back for first Old Firm derby

Celtic: Neil Lennon hopes fans back for first Old Firm derby
‘I don’t understand why we can’t accelerate this’

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has not given up hope that supporters will be permitted to attend the first Old Firm derby of the season on 17 October.

Although two Premiership test events will go ahead this weekend, the prospect of larger numbers returning has been delayed by the Scottish government until at least 5 October.

Asked if he would be surprised if fans are allowed back for Rangers’ visit, Lennon said: “No, from our point of view and our stadium it is as good as it can get.”

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The Celtic manager added: “I watched an NFL game last night at Kansas City Chiefs. There was 17,000 or 18,000 in their [76,000-capacity] stadium. In Ligue 1 in France, I watched Brest playing Marseille and there was 5,000 or 6,000 in the stadium.

“So I don’t understand to a certain degree why we can’t accelerate this when all the protocols and measures have been checked and checked again by the club.”

Celtic’s match at Ross County will be a pilot event on Saturday, with 300 fans allowed inside the stadium at Dingwall. The same number will also be allowed to attend Aberdeen v Kilmarnock.

Lennon is hopeful these two events will pave the way for fans to return quickly, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying applications for similar games over the next few weeks will still be considered.

“It’s a good sign of progress and hopefully we’ll get our turn sooner rather than later because it’s imperative for us we get our supporters back in the stadiums,” Lennon said.

“We’re disappointed that we haven’t had the opportunity, because we have been at the forefront of everything positive regarding this pandemic in terms of getting the game going again.”

Lennon revealed Celtic have completed disciplinary proceedings over Boli Bolingoli’s quarantine breach.

The left-back has been given “the maximum sanction” after going to Spain then not quarantining on his return. The player’s representatives are now looking to find him a new club.

And Lennon confirmed midfielder Tom Rogic’s potential move to a club in Qatar has collapsed over a failure to agree personal terms.

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