Celtic manager attacked by fan at match

Celtic manager attacked by fan at match

Published May. 11, 2011 11:56 p.m. ET

Glasgow Celtic manager Neil Lennon was attacked by a fan during a game at Hearts on Wednesday night, just weeks after being sent parcel bombs in the post.

A fan at Hearts' stadium ran onto the field from the home section of the main stand and charged toward Lennon, who was on the sideline.

The supporter slipped as he got close to Lennon, but still made contact with the Celtic manager, who was uninjured. The fan was wrestled to the ground and then taken away by police and arrested.

The incident occured after Celtic scored its second goal in a 3-0 win that extended the Scottish title race with fierce rival Rangers into the final game.


Hearts immediately announced it would launch an investigation.

''Hearts is a club which prides itself on its 'football for all' policy, and these sorts of actions have no place in the game of football,'' a club statement said. ''We will give our full support to the stewards and police authorities in the ensuing investigation into the events at tonight's match.''

There were also clashes between fans and police in the Celtic section of the stadium during the game. Lothian and Borders Police started an investigation.

Lennon did not speak immediately after the match. Celtic assistant coach Johan Mjallby, who described the incident as an ''absolute disgrace,'' said Lennon was ''OK but shaken.''

''We were obviously a bit shocked, all of us,'' Mjallby said. ''The guy could have had anything in his hands.''

Lennon and two prominent Celtic fans were sent parcel bombs in the weeks after a tumultuous match between Celtic and Rangers, two clubs with a history of sectarian conflict. The packages were intercepted before reaching their targets and did not explode.

Lennon and players Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, who like Lennon are from Northern Ireland, also were sent packages containing bullets earlier this year.

The 39-year-old Lennon has quit international soccer in 2002 after having made 39 appearances, saying he had received death threats from a paramilitary group in Northern Ireland.

Mjallby said he was concerned that Lennon might decide to leave Celtic in the wake of the latest incident.

''It's too early to say how he's going to react,'' he said. ''I'm shocked. Neil's a strong character. We all know this. We are desperate for him to continue to do his work. No one could blame him (if he decided to leave).''