No mercy! Strip 'financial dopers' Rangers of their titles, says Lennon
Celtic boss Neil Lennon will call for Rangers to be retrospectively stripped of their ‘tainted titles and trophies’ should the crisis-stricken Ibrox club be found guilty of ‘financial doping’.
The Parkhead manager cited drug-cheat cyclist Alberto Contador as a sporting precedent, with the shamed Spaniard earlier this month having been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro D’Italia titles after testing positive for the banned substance clenbutorol.
Lennon is awaiting with interest the results of the tribunal into Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) between 2001 and 2010, which could land the Ibrox club a 75million tax bill.
And the Northern Irishman warned if it is proved Rangers ‘cheated’ him out of titles as a player in 2003 and 2005 – as well as Gordon Strachan’s team in 2009 and Tony Mowbray’s side in 2010 – by spending money they could not afford, he will be pursuing the matter with vigour.
The title I'll believe it when I see it: Celtic manager Neil Lennon
‘A journalist recently used the
expression ‘financial doping’ (in reference to Rangers) and, for me,
doping is a sporting term for cheating,’ Lennon said.
‘And, in athletics, if you are caught doping, you are banned. Alberto
Contador got stripped of his Tour de France win in 2010, so there are
‘If it has had a direct effect on me in my playing days, I will come out and say something at that time.
‘As it is just now, it hasn’t been proved. But they (Rangers) are in
administration for a reason and I am sure you guys (the media) will get
to the bottom of it.
‘It’s not my business, not our club’s business, but it will be my
business if it has affected me as a player or previous managers and has
denied us titles and trophies in the past.
‘It’s all hearsay and hot air at the minute but, until the findings are out, we as a club won’t comment any more on it.’
Sympathetic ear: Lennon aware of the task Ally McCoist (above) faces
It was put to Lennon that stripping the Ibrox club of their titles and
cup wins retrospectively will not give Celtic the elation that comes
with winning the SPL at the time.
He said: ‘It wouldn’t but it doesn’t mean to say that we won’t be angry about it.
‘And if we do win the title this season and people want to say it has
been undermined (by Rangers being deducted 10 points and going into
administration), I will have plenty to say about devalued titles over
the years. That’s if we win the SPL, by the way.
‘I have great sympathy for my counterpart (Ally McCoist), having to go
through what he is going through at the minute when it has nothing to do
‘I have sympathy for the players too, obviously. And it’s a really tough
time for a lot of people at the club but, while I have sympathy for
them, I have no sympathy for a lot of other people involved.’
Lennon admitted the club’s supporters were unhappy with both First
Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron’s pleas that HMRC
should work with Rangers to help them out of their crisis.
He believes the Celtic fans are left wondering why there was not such a
clamour to save their team when it was on the brink of going bust 18
He said: ‘There is more disquiet among the supporters (than the club). I
think their view on it is that there wasn’t much help coming our way
in 1994, so why should other clubs be treated differently.’
Troubled times: Ibrox men have fallen 14 points behind Celtic
His comments came just 24 hours after Celtic issued a stinging rebuke to
Salmond for claiming the Parkhead outfit could not prosper without
If the Ibrox club do go bust, Lennon admits he would miss the rivalry
and he claimed there was hypocrisy among people now claiming the Old
Firm rivalry is good for Scottish football, with the first anniversary
approaching of last March’s ‘Shame Game’ when he and McCoist famously
clashed on the touchline.
Lennon said: ‘The club made its statement yesterday and I endorse that.
We are talking hypothetically here because the administrator says there
is a good chance liquidation will be unlikely.
‘But it (Rangers) would be a loss to football, that’s for sure.
‘The thing we would all miss (if Rangers die) are the games. World
football would miss that because it is the ultimate derby game.
‘But the ironic thing is that last year we had the “shame game” and
everyone was coming out and saying we don’t need the Old Firm. Now
everyone’s saying we do need it. They can’t make up their minds.’