Ally McCoist has branded Celtic’s mid-season trip to Dubai ‘an unmitigated PR disaster’ and has told talkSPORT he ‘does not care’ about Neil Lennon’s excuses in the manager’s recent bizarre outburst.
Lennon launched a remarkable defence of the club’s actions on Monday, as the Hoops boss hit back at the ‘barrage of hypocrisy’ since their return from the Middle East.
Manager Neil Lennon said Celtic have been ‘unfairly treated’ and have been ‘bullied’ over their trip to DubaiGetty Images – Getty
The coach came out fighting, swinging punches at the press, pundits and former players who he claims are ‘all wanting blood’, and even accused the Scottish government of having an ‘agenda’ against the nine-in-a-row champions.
Lennon took aim at the Government’s COVID procedures, saying they have ‘decimated his team’ after he and 13 players were forced to self-isolate after Christopher Jullien returned a positive test. One other player has since tested positive, in the only two positive cases following the trip.
Their instructions to self-isolate meant Celtic had to field a depleted and weakened team for games against Hibernian and Livingston, which they drew in both to leave them now 21 points behind Premiership leaders Rangers.
Lennon also defended the photographs that emerged of himself and captain Scott Brown enjoying a beer by the pool in Dubai, branding the images ‘a stick to beat us with’ as he blasted the ‘completely preposterous’ and ‘scandalous’ reporting of the incident.
He also lashed out at pundits, including former Celtic striker Andy Walker, who he accused the spreading lies after he branded their trip a ‘jolly’, also suggesting the striker hadn’t achieved anything at the club – despite winning the double.
Last week, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell admitted the trip was a mistake and apologised, while assistant coach John Kennedy said Celtic had some minor slip ups of COVID protocols in Dubai.
But Lennon has now been accused of contradicting that message and making the whole situation, and Celtic’s crisis, a whole lot worse.
And McCoist admitted to talkSPORT he was left completely baffled by the Celtic manager’s comments.
“It’s just been a PR disaster,” the legendary former Rangers striker and manager said on the talkSPORT Breakfast.
“I honestly can’t remember an own goal like it in Scottish football for a long time.
Rangers legend Ally McCoist was not happy about Neil Lennon’s defence of Celtic’s Dubai tripgetty
“I’ve seen the whole interview from Neil, and I can’t agree with Neil… it sounds as though his chief executive Peter Lawwell can’t agree with Neil.
“Peter Lawwell came out and apologised, and then Neil has come out and said something completely different.
“Andy Walker and I did the Rangers vs Celtic game, the final whistle blew and I turned to Andy Walker and said, ‘I cannot believe they are jumping on a plane in an hour and a half to fly to Dubai’, and he shook his head and said, ‘neither can I’.
“Even then, we knew this had the potential to be a disaster, and it has been, make no mistake.
“You think of Celtic going for ten-in-a-row this year, the signings they’ve made, the signings they haven’t made in terms of Fraser Forster or re-signing Craig Gordon, then going to Dubai and shooting themselves in the foot, it’s just been an unmitigated disaster for them.
“The majority, the vast majority of the public up there think Celtic got it absolutely wrong.
“In many ways they’re trying to hide behind ‘we didn’t do anything legally wrong’, but I really don’t care if that’s the case, the fact is they shouldn’t have gone, that’s the bottom line.
“They’ve said they haven’t done anything wrong, but you think of some of the supporters who have been furloughed, who can’t see their families and they’re seeing their boys sit at a pool having a beer.
“I know they haven’t done anything ‘wrong’, but it’s not a good look. It’s a terrible image at the very least.
“What an own goal it is from Celtic, it’s absolutely remarkable.”
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