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Neil Lennon and the SFA appear to be on a collision course after the Celtic manager was served with a Notice of Complaint.

Updated: Monday, 26 Mar 2012 18:11

Neil Lennon was sent to the stands by referee Calum Murray
Neil Lennon was sent to the stands by referee Calum Murray

Neil Lennon and the Scottish Football Association appear to be on a collision course after the Celtic manager was served with a Notice of Complaint following his sending off at half-time during the 3-2 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox yesterday.

After complaining to referee Calum Murray in the tunnel about his performance, with the visitors a goal down and having had defender Cha Du-ri sent off, Lennon was ordered to the stand although he watched the rest of the match on television in the media room.

The Parkhead boss has allegedly breached rule 203 which pertains to "misconduct at a match by dissent, the adoption of aggressive behaviour towards a match official and the repeated use of offensive, abusing and insulting language" and has until next Tuesday to respond.

However, the allegations contained within that rule are at odds with Lennon's account of the incident.

"I spoke quite quietly and coldly to the referee in the tunnel," said the former Celtic skipper after the game.

 "I didn't swear and didn't point any fingers. I told him I wasn't happy with his first-half performance.

"I was speaking to the match delegate after the game and their version of events are different from mine but I've got witnesses to back me up.

"Alan Thompson (coach) and our PR person was there, and a couple of other members of staff and players."

The SFA have set the Principal Hearing Date for Thursday, April 19.

However, the SFA's Compliance Officer, Vincent Lunny, and Lennon are set to tangle before that.

Lunny has already written to the Celtic manager asking him to explain his comments following last week's 1-0 Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat against Kilmarnock at Hampden where he described referee Willie Collum's decision not to award the Hoops a late penalty as "shocking" and "criminal".

The Irishman is likely to fight both cases which will make for a feisty next few weeks at Hampden as more apparent misunderstanding emerged in the Ibrox fall-out.

Lennon's gripe about having to watch the second half on television in the bowels of the stadium took on a slightly different sheen when it was revealed that it was Celtic's own security staff who advised against him sitting in the stand.

During his post-match rant Lennon had said: "I can't sit in the stand for my own safety, that sums things up in this country.

"I would have sat in the directors' box but I was told for my own safety that it wasn't a good idea. I watched the second half in here (the media room)."

It was assumed - and at least in one case, reported - that it was Rangers' security who had given Lennon the safety advice.

However, the Parkhead club cleared up the situation through a statement which read: "Further to certain media reports today, for clarification, Neil was advised by Celtic's own security and operations staff not to enter the stand or directors' box area at Ibrox at yesterday's match.

"He was then provided another area by Rangers in which to watch the match."

A spokesperson for Rangers said: "Rangers Football Club can confirm that Neil Lennon was offered a seat in the directors' box to view the second half of yesterday's game.

"This offer was declined by Celtic's security staff and he was then accommodated in an alternative area."

Turning to matters on the pitch, Lennon described as "nonsense" accusations that his players are big-game bottlers.

The disappointment of Ibrox came just a week after the Hoops were on the end of a shock defeat to Killie, which ended hopes of a domestic treble.

Celtic's doubters will point last season's League Cup final defeat by Rangers at Hampden and the upset at Inverness last May which ultimately cost them the championship.

However, Lennon, whose side are 18 points clear of the administration-hit Ibrox club, is adamant that when they do eventually win the title, they will be worthy champions.

"People can throw the accusation we don't win the big games all they want - but it is a nonsense," he told the Evening Times.

"Every game is a big game for us, and these players have been fantastic. We'll have to wait a little bit longer (for a title party).

"But my players showed in the second half why they are going to be the champions. They've got pride and they've got quality and kept going right to the end."

The Parkhead club this evening confirmed they are to appeal against the red card issued to Cha for hauling back Lee Wallace on the edge of the Celtic box although there will be no appeal against midfielder Victor Wanyama`s dismissal in the second half for a two-footed challenge on Steven Whittaker.

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