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Neil Lennon implores authorities to allow fans back into Celtic Park soon

Celtic v Ferencvaros – UEFA Champions League – Second Qualifying Round – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Neil Lennon has made a plea to the authorities to allow fans to return to Celtic Park as soon as possible.

There have been no supporters at football games in the country since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hoops’ Scottish Premiership match against Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday, along with Aberdeen’s home game against Kilmarnock, has been chosen as a test event for the return of spectators, with 300 allowed in each stadium.

However, the date for general reopening of stadia in the country has been moved back from Monday until October 5 at the earliest by the Scottish government due to the rise in coronavirus cases.

The Celtic boss was asked if, in light of that recent announcement, he would be surprised if there were fans inside Celtic Park for the Old Firm match against Rangers on October 17.

“No, certainly from our point of view,  our stadium is as good as you can get,” said the Northern Irishman, who has striker Odsonne Edouard available again after he recovered from a thigh injury, with new signing Shane Duffy also going straight into the squad.

“You know I watched the NFL game last night, the opening game of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs, there was 17,000 to 18,000 in their stadium.

“So I don’t understand, to a certain degree, why we can’t sort of accelerate this when all the protocols and measures have been checked and checked again by the club.

“Maybe it’s because it (football) is so high profile. But when we were playing in France (pre-season) they were letting people into the stadiums there.

“Ligue 1 has started and I watched Brest play Marseille and there was 5,000 to 6,000 in the stadium.

“And like I say, in the first NFL game of the season last night, there were 17,000 to 18,000 in the stadium. We can cater for that, no question.”

The former Celtic captain believes having 300 fans inside the Global Energy Stadium is a positive thing but stressed the need to get Hoops fans back to Parkhead.

He said: “We’re disappointed that we haven’t had the opportunity to get fans into our stadium because we’ve been in the forefront of everything positive, regarding this pandemic and in terms of getting the game going again.

“It’s a good sign. It’s a sign of progress and hopefully, we’ll get our turn sooner rather than later because it’s imperative for us that we get our supporters back into the stadiums.

“I think it’s hugely important. Obviously health and safety comes first, we have always maintained that but as far as our own sort of home environment is concerned it’s as good as anything around Britain and it’s ready to go.

“So hopefully this pilot scheme at the weekend will be successful and then we can get the green light to go ahead with our games at home as well.”

Lennon revealed that Celtic have completed disciplinary proceedings concerning Boli Bolingoli, with the player’s representatives now looking to move him on.

The Belgian left-back went to Spain last month and broke Covid-19 quarantine rules on his return to play against Kilmarnock, which led to the club’s next two Premiership fixtures being postponed.

The Parkhead boss said: “He’s been heavily sanctioned by the club,  the maximum sanction we could give him really.

“He’s not back in training and I think his representatives are looking at options for him elsewhere.”