CELTIC manager Neil Lennon last night expressed hope the SPFL can reach an amicable agreement with Hearts and Partick Thistle and avoid the start to the new Premiership season being delayed.

The Tynecastle and Firhill clubs, who were relegated after league reconstruction was rejected on Monday, have launched a joint legal action against the governing body.

They are seeking £8m and £2m in compensation respectively after the 2019/20 season was curtailed prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic and final placings decided on a points per game basis.

Hearts and Partick have stated they “reserve the right” to take out an interim interdict that stops the top flight from getting underway on August 1.

Lennon, whose side return to training for the first time in three months last week, is keen for the new campaign to kick off as scheduled and wants to see the stand-off resolved.

“I can’t speak on behalf of other clubs, but I understand the reaction (of Hearts and Partick) to some degree,” he said.

“Listen, it’s not exclusive to Scotland. We’ve seen the Dutch association paying out compensation to clubs who were absolutely livid with their decisions. There’s been legal fights in France and Belgium. In England Leagues One and Two are not happy. I get it.

“We’ll have to take it a day at time like everything and see what the outcome is going to be. I just hope everyone can find some sort of peace and resolution.

“I don’t know if an interdict to halt the start of the season is feasible. But I’d just hope the SPFL, Hearts and Thistle can come to some sort of agreement, whether it’s compensation or whatever, I don’t know.

“What we can’t have is another delay. It would be so damaging, not just to the top clubs but to all the clubs. The bitterness doesn’t help anyone.”

Lennon added: “It was never going to be easy and it was always going to be a difficult call to make. I understand the clubs involved want to take legal representation and that’s well within their right.

“But for the sake of the game you hope we can sort it out to get us moving forward rather than looking back.

“It would be a huge blow for everyone if the season wasn’t able to start on time for legal reasons. We’ve had a long time without football for players, managers, supporters, everyone.

“It’s been a tumultuous period, but it’s not just in Scotland. Countries have had to call it so it’s understandable it’s caused issues.

“We’ve moved to Phase Two and things are looking more promising from a social as well as a football point of view. You just hope this can be resolved and we can get back playing again.”

Meanwhile, Lennon revealed Celtic are set to announce Damien Duff’s replacement as first team coach imminently. “We’re hoping to have someone in place next week,” he said. “We’ve identified three of four options.”