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By ESPN Staff

Celtic push for SFA reform

Celtic have revived attempts to force reform of the Scottish Football Association after manager Neil Lennon was hit with a six-match touchline ban.

Celtic immediately announced they would appeal against an additional four-match ban given to Lennon for ''excessive misconduct'' after his automatic two-game suspension for his dismissal against Hearts in November was upheld.

The club declared themselves ''very surprised and extremely disappointed'' by the sanctions imposed by the SFA's disciplinary committee.

The shock punishment, for disputing a rejected penalty claim in a 2-0 defeat and Lennon's subsequent reaction to his dismissal by Craig Thomson, came after Celtic had drawn back from their dispute with the SFA towards the end of last year.

Celtic chairman John Reid backed SFA chief executive Stewart Regan's plan to reform the organisation's decision-making procedures in November, pulling back from the conflict which had escalated when Dougie McDonald lied to Lennon about the circumstances behind a rescinded penalty.

McDonald's latter resignation as a referee further eased tensions between the club and the governing body. But the severe punishment for Lennon, more than two months after his crime, drew a strong and instant reaction from within Celtic Park.

A statement from Celtic read: ''We are very surprised and extremely disappointed at the decision - we believe the punishment imposed was excessive in the circumstances and to our knowledge unprecedented for a first offence.

''We have maintained for some time that a range of SFA processes and structures needed to be reviewed and updated. This view was supported recently by Henry McLeish in his review of the SFA.

''The events only underline and reinforce our opinion. Without question Celtic will be supporting its manager Neil Lennon in his appeal. As well as challenging the severity of the punishment imposed, our appeal will also focus on issues of procedural fairness and the manner in which such hearings are conducted.''

SFA president George Peat reacted strongly to Celtic's statement. Peat has branded Celtic's complaints as "tiresome'' and told them to focus more on their own discipline.

He said: "Celtic's policy of airing their grievances in public is becoming tiresome. It is ironic that they have chosen to criticise the Scottish FA's processes and structures yet again on the eve of our two-day seminar which will culminate in a new strategy, incorporating streamlined structures and more efficient procedures.

"The Scottish FA is acutely aware of the need to modernise. That was why we commissioned the Henry McLeish Review, which we are committed to implementing. It was only a matter of weeks ago that the Celtic chief executive welcomed the Scottish FA's recognition of the need for modernisation.

"It is also ironic, given the constant demands for transparency and accountability, that the statement issued by Celtic last night was not attributed to anyone. Perhaps Celtic should devote more time to their own responsibilities and discipline than questioning others.''


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