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Chief executive Peter Lawwell adamant there is no complacency at Celtic

Celtic v Ross County – Scottish League Cup – Second Round – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Chief executive Peter Lawwell has denied any notions of complacency as Celtic’s bid for 10 in a row finds itself under serious threat from Rangers.

Neil Lennon’s side are 13 points adrift of the Light Blues at the top of the Scottish Premiership with two games in hand and have been knocked out of the Europa League and Betfred Cup.

There was another protest calling to ‘Sack the Board’ held outside Celtic Park ahead of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock.

Lawwell was speaking on a video played at the club’s annual general meeting, held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to shareholders’ questions submitted before the Europa League win over Lille last Thursday night and the victory over Killie which has taken some heat off the club, he was asked about the accusation of complacency by some fans towards himself, major shareholder Dermot Desmond and the rest of the board.

He said: “It is not the case. If you go back to last May we were crowned Premiership champions for the ninth time in a row.

“We have won the treble treble and next week we could win the quadruple treble. Incredible domestic success.

“Despite that, in the summer we strengthened the squad knowing there is going to be a challenge this year, to a level that we haven’t done before.

“We came out the window with a very strong squad and we spent as a club, over the previous 14 months, July 2019 to that point, £35million. We have never spent anything like that in the past.

“We have strengthened and kept all our big players. So that is not complacency and I believe we saw that (challenge) coming and prepared for that.

“We prepare by having reserves in the club, some of which were affected by the pandemic but those reserves were invested into the team to make us stronger.

“We had a manager that delivers, he has a track record and in addition, we continually invest more and more into our football function, into sport science, analysis, performance, recruitment.

“We are investing in football to take the club forward and no way were we are sitting back being complacent and waiting on things to happen.”

Lawwell admits he can “fully understand” the elements of fan unrest at the club.

He said: “We are all Celtic supporters here. I can understand the frustration and disappointment that in a big year we have had such a difficult run over the last eight weeks, and that’s what it is eight weeks.

“It is going to be very difficult in this big year for the league but we haven’t given up.

“We will go and do everything we can to get the league this year.”

Lawwell reiterated his support for Lennon, in his second spell as Celtic boss.

He said: “Neil’s credentials as a Celtic man and as a manager are there for everyone to see.

“He came back in February, 2019. He probably had everything to lose and nothing much to win.

“But he came in, did a fantastic job, won us the league, the cup, the treble treble.

“He then took on the team again, we won the League Cup beating Rangers in the final and we won the group section of the Europa League.

“We then get our nine in a row title and he has got us into the Scottish Cup final next week which is hopefully the unprecedented quadruple treble.

“So he was the man in February 2019, he was the man for it last summer, and we believe he is the man for it just now.

“He has the trust and confidence of the players, he has the trust and confidence of his backroom staff and we believe at this particular time he is the best man to try and recover this deficit in the league and get us on to 10 in a row.”