NEIL LENNON, the Celtic manager, last night admitted his frustration at Rangers' persistence in involving the Parkhead club in matters which don't concern them.
Charles Green, the Ibrox chief executive, has frequently mentioned Celtic when delivering an almost daily barrage of statements. Most recently, the Yorkshireman projected that Celtic’s season ticket sales could suffer next term because their supporters now know for certain there will be no Old Firm fixtures. Green also claimed Celtic’s average home attendance in the last eight games had been lower than Rangers’ as he sought to make a case for his club being an attractive addition to leagues in England.
In light of the proposed restructuring of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League, Green again mentioned Celtic late last week when suggesting his club should not complete their fixtures, should take Uefa to court citing sex discrimination and play in another country.
Rangers are not even on Celtic’s radar, according to Lennon, who will now refuse to answer any more questions about the Ibrox club. He has had enough of what he perceives to be a continuous tactic by Green to use Celtic’s name to illustrate his points. “He’s entitled to his opinion, but they keep bringing us into their problems,” said Lennon. “We probably have to take that as a back-handed compliment.”
On Green’s line regarding Rangers quitting Scotland, Lennon said: “I understand where he is coming from. I’m not too sure whether he was adamant in saying ‘We need to go now’, or whatever it is. Whether that’s good for the game, I don’t know. Whether that’s good for them, I don’t know. We seem to keep getting brought into it, whether they are having a little nip at us or not. Again, I take it as a back-handed compliment because they are looking up at us.
“But, from here on in, I’m not going to answer any more questions on Rangers because they are not on our radar, unless we play them in a cup competition, then I’ll be quite happy to answer questions on the football aspect of things. As regards all this stuff off the field, I have no comment to make whatsoever.”
“We are six months down the line from Rangers playing in the third division, and I’m still answering questions on them. I don’t want to answer any more questions on them. I have enough on my plate.
“We have an important half of the season to look forward to, and I can’t dwell on what’s gone on in the past and I can’t dwell on what is going on in the third division.”
Of more immediate concern to Lennon is the pursuit of Tom Rogic, the Central Coast Mariners midfielder who is on trial with the Celtic squad at their winter training camp in Marbella.
Andy Bernal, the player’s agent, revealed yesterday that Queens Park Rangers have entered the race to sign the 20-year-old and are reported to have submitted an offer of £460,000 to Mariners.
“I can confirm Celtic want to take him back to Glasgow this week and that there is also interest from other clubs, with QPR among them,” said Bernal.
With left-sided defender Rami Gershon already signed up and Nigerian left-back Juwon Oshinawi confirmed as another target, the potential addition of Rogic to the Celtic first-team pool has been welcomed by Adam Matthews.
“The competition for places is going to be stiffer, and that can only help us,” said the defender. “You know if you are not playing well you’ll be out of the team. This should help make sure everyone’s 100% focused on what they need to do.”
Celtic, meanwhile, are preparing to invite another A-League player for a trial in Glasgow.
Marco Rojas, Melbourne Victory’s 21-year-old winger, who is of Chilean descent but plays for New Zealand, has been recommended to Lennon who is keen to have a closer look at him.