Man charged over attack on Celtic manager Lennon

AFP, Thursday 12 May 2011

A man was due to appear in court on Thursday in connection with the attempted touchline attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the match at Hearts

Neil Lennon
Celtic's manager Neil Lennon is attacked by a fan during the Scottish Premier League soccer match at Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh (Photo: AP)

Lothian and Borders Police said the 26-year-old man is due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, but did not release details of the charge.

After Celtic scored the second goal of a 3-0 win at Hearts on Wednesday, a fan ran onto the field from the home section of the main stand and struck Lennon.

The attack appears to be the latest sectarian incident involving Celtic, traditionally supported by Irish Catholics. Glasgow rival Rangers and Hearts, based in Edinburgh, are both mainly supported by Protestants.

"Clearly this kind of behavior from supporters is wholly unacceptable," Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said. "The safety of players, club officials and match officials is paramount on or around the field of play, and this clear breach of security is a matter I will be discussing with SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster." The supporter appeared to evade security at Hearts' Tynecastle stadium and slipped as he got close to Lennon, but still made contact with the Celtic manager, who was uninjured.

The fan wrestled to the ground and then taken away by police and arrested.

Lennon did not speak immediately after the match. His only comment so far has been via Twitter.

"Don't let what happened to me tonight take the shine off a wonderful team performance... I don't walk alone" Lennon wrote.

The win moved Celtic to within a single point of defending champion Rangers ahead of Sunday's final matches.

"It's a disgrace," Celtic assistant coach Johan Mjallby said. "Neil was shocked, and obviously, he's had death threats (previously) and he's shaken right now. I have never seen anything like it.

"We have to look into this because when you work in management you should be secure in a football ground." Lennon and two prominent Celtic fans were sent parcel bombs in the weeks after a tumultuous match between Celtic and Rangers. The packages were intercepted before reaching their targets and did not explode.

Strathclyde Police said Thursday that two men have been arrested following their investigation of letter bombs addressed to Lennon and two prominent fans of the club in March and April.

Police said the two men, aged 41 and 43, were detained following raids at several properties in Kilwinning, 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Glasgow.

The bombs were intercepted and didn't explode.

Lennon and players Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, who like Lennon are from Northern Ireland, were also sent packages containing bullets earlier this year.

Lennon quit international football in 2002 after having made 39 appearances, saying he had received death threats from a paramilitary group in Northern Ireland.

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