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By ESPN Staff

Lennon handed two-match ban

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been handed a two-match ban for his criticism of Scottish League Cup final referee Willie Collum but no punishment for his dismissal at Ibrox.

Lennon faced a Scottish Football Association judicial panel at Hampden on Thursday on two charges.

The SFA confirmed they had imposed an immediate two-match ban for his comments following Celtic's 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Hampden on March 18.

But, for being sent to the stand during a 3-2 defeat by Rangers the following weekend, the SFA said "the tribunal imposed no further sanction on the basis that the half-game served outwith the technical area was sufficient''.

The Northern Irishman accused Collum of a "criminal" decision not to award Celtic a late penalty at Hampden when Anthony Stokes was booked for simulation after a challenge by Kilmarnock defender Michael Nelson.

Lennon was banned for "making comments in an interview which criticise the performance of a match official in such a way as to indicate bias or incompetence".

Over his dismissal at half-time in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League defeat by Rangers, Lennon accepted a misconduct charge relating to dissent and adopting an aggressive attitude towards a match official after clashing with fourth official Iain Brines.

However, it is understood that the panel did not pursue accusations of insulting and abusive language over Lennon's discussions with Brines and referee Calum Murray at half-time.

Lennon took assistants Johan Mjallby and Alan Thompson to Hampden today to provide evidence over the issue.

A spokesperson for Celtic said: "We can confirm that we are satisfied with the fairness and spirit of the hearing today and that no appeal will be made against the findings or sanctions."

Today's decision means Lennon will sit in the Fir Park stand when Celtic face Motherwell on Sunday and be absent from the technical area in another Old Firm game, when Rangers visit Parkhead on April 29.

Lennon could yet face three more charges relating to separate incidents.

The Celtic manager was asked to explain comments made after the Rangers game about hoping for a decent referee performance against St Johnstone the following weekend, although there are suggestions that matter may be dropped.

Fresh charges are likely to be brought next week over the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts at Hampden on Sunday.

Lennon marched onto the pitch to confront Euan Norris after the referee awarded Hearts a late penalty for handball but denied Celtic a similar appeal moments later.

He later tweeted "I think it's personal myself" before re-tweeting a comment from a Celtic fan that suggested the club "pack our bags and get out of this league that is run by crooked £SFA officials".

However, defender Charlie Mulgrew thinks too much has been made of the comments.

"I don't take much notice of it, to be honest," said the 26-year-old Parkhead defender. That's just the person and manager he is, he is just showing a lot of passion and I don't think there is any changing him.

"It's something that happens and sometimes maybe a big deal is made out of not very much. He has a lot of passion for the game, a lot of passion for Celtic so it is hard to take that away from him.

"Different people react in different ways and that's the way he does it. There's no changing him. Maybe sometimes there is too big a deal made out of it."

Mulgrew added: "Whatever the manager tweets, that's up to him. We don't take any notice of that, that is the manager's personal view and he is allowed to have his own views.

"No, we just have to do our job and the manager does what he does, and we don't get involved in it."

Mulgrew, in his second spell at the Parkhead club, praised Lennon for helping him secure a nomination for the Cheque Centre PFA Scotland player of the year award, which he helped to publicise at a Glasgow hotel today.

Rangers skipper Steven Davis, Dundee United's Jon Daly and Dean Shiels of Kilmarnock have also been shortlisted.

"The manager has been great, he has had a big role to play," said the Scotland cap. "He has shown tremendous belief and trust in me and given me confidence.

"There are a lot of boys in the team who have been brought from different clubs and has either put an arm round them or, at times, shouted at them but I think he has the right balance and a lot of boys owe a big thanks to him."

While the disappointment from Sunday lingers, Mulgrew insists the Hoops players will not allow the double cup disappointments to detract from their title win.

"Obviously getting to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup and the final of the League Cup, you would be looking to win those," he said.

"The fact that we have not is disappointing but they wouldn't have been mentioned if we had been put out in the first round of both, so we can't think like that.

"If you sit back and look at it from the start of the season, you would definitely have taken the league because the league is the main thing.

"That was the main aim, to give ourselves an opportunity to get into the Champions League so it has been a good season overall."


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