Police have launched an investigation into Neil Lennon’s goal celebrations at Ibrox during Hibernian’s match against Rangers, according to reports.
A spokesperson for Police Scotland told The Scottish Sun that they had received complaints about Lennon, with Rangers fans branding the Hibs head coach’s actions as ‘inflammatory’.
One supporters’ group, Club 1872, issued a statement on Sunday night condemning what they called a ‘failed attempt to incite trouble’, adding: “Mr Lennon has previous for abusing and goading both Rangers staff and supporters. He seems completely unable to control himself at Ibrox. We can only speculate as to why.
“His actions in the dugout yesterday – where he made various inflammatory gestures to the supporters sitting directly behind the Hibernian dugout – were not becoming of any football manager, never mind one who likes to play the victim when things do not go his way.”
The statement continued: “Police categorised this match as high risk due to the behaviour of Hibernian supporters at the Scottish Cup Final in 2016 when Rangers players were attacked on the pitch.
“Neil Lennon knew that and he knew he had a responsibility to act in an appropriate manner.
“He shirked that responsibility and reverted to type. We hope police will speak directly to Mr Lennon over the coming days and at the very least give him a warning over his future conduct at Ibrox.”
Police are thought to have received around 30 complaints, while Rangers assistant manager Helder Baptista is also thought to have spoken to police about Lennon’s behaviour.
After Simon Murray equalised for Hibs in the 21st minute, Lennon turned to face the main stand, cupping his ears before making a fist-pumping gesture before a cigarette lighter was thrown at him.
But the Hibs boss insisted he didn’t make a gesture during his post-match comments, adding: “You are looking for things that aren’t there. I didn’t make a gesture, I celebrated a goal, if they are unhappy with that they can see me.
“But I shouldn’t get into trouble for that. I’m celebrating a goal, so what way are you supposed to celebrate a goal? If I pick my nose somebody will find something to criticise me for.
“I’m celebrating a goal – so that’s the end of it.”
Sources close to Lennon told The Sun that the former Celtic captain had ‘been putting up with abuse for the best part of 20 years,’ adding: “Is he really expected to just sit back and take it? A police investigation is ludicrous.”
Lennon also received backing from Hibernian’s former Rangers player Steven Whittaker, who revealed the Easter Road boss had preached calm to his squad before the match.
“He wanted us to keep our cool,” Whittaker explained. “We knew it would be heated at times, so keep our cool, keep steady and just do what we have been doing.
And chairman of the Scottish League Managers Association Alex Smith also threw his support behind Lennon, saying: “People need to get a grip because this is what football’s about - enjoying scoring goals.
“It’s a ridiculous situation when people are looking for the least wee thing to have a grievance about.
“Neil Lennon will have been involved in umpteen games at Ibrox in his career but he’s gone there with Hibs and seen them, as a newly-promoted club, winning away from home against Rangers.
“Why would he not want to celebrate that?”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman added: “I can confirm Police Scotland have received complaints about Neil Lennon’s conduct at Ibrox on Saturday.”