Lennon expects Celtic to be crowned champions if season ends prematurely
Sunday’s Old Firm derby postponed until further notice
Paul Lennon: “It is unprecedented. I have never experienced this in my career, everyone is in the same boat.” Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty
Neil Lennon would expect Celtic to be declared Ladbrokes Premiership champions if the season is brought to a premature end due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Scottish Football Association and Scottish Professional Football League’s joint response group announced on Friday an immediate suspension, with all games – including Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox – postponed until “further notice”.
With eight league games remaining, Celtic are 13 points ahead of Rangers having played a game more and heavy favourites to make it nine successive title wins.
The Parkhead boss referenced Dundee United’s 14-point lead over Inverness in the Scottish Championship and Liverpool’s apparent romp to the Premier League title – as well as Hearts’ struggle at the bottom of the Premiership table – when asked what should happen if the season was scrapped.
“We would be the champions and rightly so,” said Lennon. “We are 13 points clear. Dundee United, they would have to be promoted as well.
“Certainly, if you are talking about the Armageddon of the league being cancelled or stopped, it should go on the average points total which would make us clear champions and rightly so. We are over 30 games into the season, they are not going to take that away from us.
“Are they going to do that to Liverpool? I would doubt it very much.
“I get your point about Hearts but you have to look at average point per game and take it from there.
“If it was to stop now I would doubt very much that they would say it was null and void.”
There is speculation that the 2020 European Championships will be cancelled which could create room for league seasons to be completed but Lennon outlined the flaw in that plan.
The former Celtic captain said: “That would be okay but then you get Champions League qualifiers maybe a week later.
“I think the Euros will get cancelled so maybe a window to extend the league into the summer but then when does the following season start?”
Lennon is no fan either, of games being played behind closed doors.
He said: “Ideally you’d like to get the fans back in because I’ve watched a couple of games this week behind closed doors and it’s awful.
“Football without the fans, especially a club of our support and history, you’d want your fans there to back you. I’m not a big lover of games behind closed doors but if it’s needs must then so be it.”
Lennon confirmed there were no signs of the virus in the Celtic camp as he revealed the players were given a couple of days off before the situation is assessed again at the beginning of the week.
He said: “It has been business as usual. We were training today and got word that it was cancelled. We have given the players a few days off and we can sit down on Monday maybe and see where we go from there.
“It is unprecedented. I have never experienced this in my career, everyone is in the same boat. The gym is here for the players to use if they want and then we will try to get to business as usual.
“We were praying for the game and looking forward to it. We understand but we are bitterly disappointed.”