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Neil Lennon: 'Playing behind closed doors would not be ideal'

Neil Lennon: 'Playing behind closed doors would not be ideal'
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The Hoops are 13 points clear at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon described the prospect of playing games behind closed doors to help prevent further spread of coronavirus as "not ideal" but accepts the broader picture of fixtures being fulfilled.

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster has warned an outbreak of the virus at even one club could make finishing the season "very difficult". As of Friday morning, 11 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, with the UK figure standing at 163.

The possibility of matches taking place at empty stadiums was flagged up as the football authorities consider what options might be available.

"It's not ideal but they have had to do it in Italy," said Lennon, voted Ladbrokes Premiership manager of the month for February

"I don't know what measures are taken elsewhere but we'll have to take a view on that if and when that situation arises.

"It's not ideal. I don't know the financial situations of other clubs but I would say it would be very detrimental to the financial well-being.

"I think we are maybe getting a little bit too far ahead of ourselves at the minute and we will have to take it week by week.

"Yes, we want to play the games and obviously we want to play them in front of full houses, that's what football is all about.

"Behind closed doors isn't ideal and, like I say, the club will guide me on how to guide the players and staff on that."

Lennon is having daily briefings with regards dealing with potential problems of the virus.

The Northern Irishman said: "There are executive meetings every morning and medical staff are briefed every morning on what shouldn't happen. We've been told not to shake hands with people or stop for selfies or photographs.

"That's not us meaning to be rude or anything like that, it's just avoid the spread.

"We have to protect the players and the staff here as much as we can. It is very important."

Lennon's award came off the back of five league wins out of five last month which helped the Hoops stretch away from Rangers at the top of the table.

Celtic, unbeaten domestically in 2020, are 13 points clear of their Old Firm rivals having played a game more as they prepare to face St Mirren at Parkhead on Saturday.

He said: "It's a measure, obviously, of the good month that we've had and that's down to the players really.

"They've been magnificent, really consistent so that's for their performances more than anything I've done.

"While it's great, still got a bit of work to do. We are in a good place at the minute and we want to keep the run going as long as we can."

Jim Goodwin's St Mirren are 10th in the standings on 26 points, having lost just three times – against Celtic, Rangers and Livingston – in their last 12 league games.

Lennon said: "Jim has improved them but we are concentrating on our own run.

"We are at home. I expect St Mirren to be difficult to break down at times but I am hoping we can do that.

"I want a front-foot performance from us, I want us to play aggressively."

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon reacts on February 27, 2020
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