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By ESPN Staff

Lennon ban reduced

Celtic manager Neil Lennon's six-match ban for excessive misconduct has been reduced to four matches after a meeting of the Scottish FA's Appeals Board.

• Blog: Lennon a popular target

Lennon was sent to the stand by ref Craig Thomson at Tynecastle back in November after a bust-up with fourth official Steven McLean, and was punished in January by the SFA for "excessive misconduct".

An SFA statement read: "The Appeals Board has tonight found that the Scottish FA's charge of excessive misconduct against the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, was inevitable.

"However, they set aside the original sanction of a two-match automatic suspension plus a further four matches for excessive misconduct and have imposed a new sanction of an automatic two-match suspension and an additional two matches. The new sanction will be imposed with immediate effect."

The appeal was heard by senior judge Lord Carloway, and two other unnamed panel members. Lennon was represented at the Hampden meeting, which went late into the night, by Paul McBride QC, while the SFA were represented by Ronnie Clancy QC. However, Lennon looks set for another ban after Wednesday night's Old Firm Scottish Cup fifth-round replay at Parkhead which Celtic won 1-0 with a Mark Wilson goal.

The Irishman and Rangers assistant boss Ally McCoist had to be separated at the end of an ill-tempered game in which three Ibrox players were red carded. SFA chief executive Stewart Regan condemned "the inflammatory and irresponsible behaviour'' witnessed during and after the match and confirmed an investigation had been launched into all incidents.

Ibrox duo Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra were sent off during the match, both for two yellow cards, and after the final whistle team-mate El-Hadji Diouf also picked up a red card for a second booking after approaching referee Calum Murray. Lennon claimed he and McCoist had settled their differences but both are set to be punished by the SFA after the investigation is complete.

Lennon told the club's official website: "There was an incident on the touchline at the final whistle between myself and Ally McCoist, and obviously it's one that has attracted a lot of attention. We've both got a lot of experience of this fixture and know that sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things can be said and words exchanged. It is a passionate game and both of us want our team to win. However, we were still able to sit down after the game and, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.''

The angry scenes during and after the game have been discussed in the Scottish Parliament and both clubs have agreed to meet officials from the Scottish Government and police to discuss the fall-out from the derby fixtures.


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