Neil Lennon touchline ban – One rule too far?

Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, has this week been hit with a three match touchline ban after being found guilty for using offensive language at a match at St. Mirren Park earlier this season.

Even though the match took place on March 31, he wasn’t actually banned for breaking disciplinary rule 203. This ban is because it triggered a ban which was carried over from last season.

Last season!

That seems ridiculous to me. How can a ban wait so long before it is actually carried through? If there is a ban then it should not be suspended. It’s like prisoners with suspended sentences; if the sentence is suspended then they can offend again and won’t learn from their mistakes straight away.

It’s just madness. How long can a period of probation last?

The huge blow to the Bhoys’ manager is that if he doesn’t appeal the decision, which came as a result of a Scottish Football Association tribunal, he will watch his side play Inverness Caledonian Thistle this weekend when they could seal the SPL title, from the stands.

The best thing about this story, was the Northern Irishman’s Twitter feed. After the decision was announced, the 41 year old tweeted “Really looking forward to my press conference tomorrow.”


Of course, there should be respect, maturity and less foul language on the football park. Whether it be players aiming slurs at each other, the ref or the fans; there are younger viewers watching the football.

But my question is: without the swearing, without the desire, the will to win…where is the passion?

Sitting or standing in football stands around the country, we hear fans swearing, shouting and singing. We see them engage with each other, engage the rivalries with the opposing fans and most of the time it is in good faith.

If a manager is to remain seated through the entire match, not jump for joy when his team scores, or hold his head in his hands when his men concede a last equaliser when they’re scrapping for survival or even stand on the touchline and shout “Hey ref, that was a bad decision. Try harder next time!” every fan of the club would be questioning the manager’s commitment.


The match which the former Hoops player was cited for the foul language was the 1-1 draw against the Buddies, in which Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Esmael Goncalves inside the box, with the subsequent penalty being given and converted.

From several camera angles, it has been shown that it was outside the box…not only that, there was no contact. How the referee got a decision so wrong is beyond me.

That match was filled with refereeing errors, with Lennon admitting that the referee had missed a blatant handball by Georgios Samaras in the first half.

However, in the danger of focussing on refereeing too much, back to the original idea – passion.

Obviously, there is a way of going about things. When Lennon initially took charge at Celtic Park, I felt he was being very childish with some of his reactions and his behaviour in some fixtures.

Although, this season I have seen him grow up and actually behave as a manager should.

The 'special one' known for his passion

The ‘special one’ known for his passion

Changing times?

Do we really want to see passionless managers? Characters. That is what managers like Lennon, Paolo Di Canio, Martin O’Neill, Jose Mourinho and others are.

Even a few years ago, when Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands for kicking a water bottle along the touchline after his side were denied a goal, that showed his own frustration for his side, and showed that even the manager’s at the top level have passion.

To take swearing and the ability to show a manager’s happiness or despair is like trying to butter your bread with a spoon. It cannot be done.

Obviously, there is a time and a place for some things to be said, but in a moment of glory, or a moment of despair…even a moment of rage – can someone really blame a manager for losing his cool and directing a few swear words towards the referee?

The day a manager can’t truly vent the way he feels will be the same day

that football is no longer football. We’re set to see goal line technology implemented next season.

Too many things could change, and too much change is bad.

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About Author

Blair Condie

I'm currently a student at Stirling University in Scotland, where I have just finished my third year for my degree in Sports and Journalism studies. I have an interest in a number of sports, including football, golf, tennis, rugby and American football.

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