Neil Lennon: Game must change and this is way to go

NEIL LENNON last night threw his weight behind the proposed restructuring of Scottish football – and invited the critics of change to put up or shut up.

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Neil Lennon is all smiles after being presented with the Clydesdale Bank Manager of the Month award for December at the club's training centre in Marbella
Neil Lennon is all smiles after being presented with the Clydesdale Bank Manager of the Month award for December at the club's training centre in Marbella

The Celtic manager is dismayed at the clamour by some sideline snipers to knock the proposal when they have nothing to bring to the table.

He said: "We are the ones in the game trying to make it work. A lot of people on the outside looking in want to chip away at it. They are the ones who do not come up with anything better. They sit in front of the TV and just chip, chip, chip, chip away.

"But that's a social thing, not a football thing."

Lennon accepts that only if the 12-12-18 plans are implemented will anyone know if it is the right way forward for the game in this country.

However, he is in favour of giving it a try, despite the knockers.

He said: "We're supportive of it. This is what the majority of the clubs in the SPL see as the best way forward.

"It needed changing, and we think it's going to change for the better.

"The proof will be in the pudding, though. But the majority of people in the SPL are happy with it, and I'm happy to go along with that."

Lennon does not subscribe to the suggestion this is some kind of last throw of the dice to try and arrest a slide in attendances.

"The whole Rangers thing has obviously taken away a huge proportion of the crowds we were getting in the SPL," he conceded.

"But it has made other clubs competitive.

"There is still a real love and passion for the game. I don't think that will ever go away."

Lennon continued: "Sometimes you have to look further ahead. Sometimes, for me as a manager, that's hard to do because you're working day to day and week to week.

"But for the people who run the game, they have to look at the future product and what it's going to bring."

The hope is that will be more supporters back through the gates, and more money flowing through the entire game.

Lennon believes the new structure should be given the chance to show it can tick all of these boxes and said: "You always want a more competitive league.

"But, I always think at the end of the season the best team will win the championship anyway, and that's usually the one with the best resources and the best players.

"That never changes, whether the competition improves or not. I'd like us to remain as powerful as possible, obviously, so we maintain our status in the game.

"But, people have chewed up the numbers over the past year.

"I was at a meeting with Neil Doncaster a year ago where we were told that, financially for the SPL, 10 teams was the best way forward.

"Obviously they are prepared to take a hit on that for the betterment of the game."

Lennon has always maintained that there are too many teams in Scotland for size of population, but he is content to leave reformatting the game to those with a clearer view of the financial picture.

He said: "These guys know the number crunching, and we have enough on our plate. Just accept it and make the best of it."

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