Lennon hoping for reprieve

26 August 2011 08:00

Neil Lennon revealed Celtic will still be looking to take their place in the Europa League group stages on a technicality despite losing 3-1 to Sion in their play-off second-leg clash at the Stade de Tourbillon on Thursday night.

Sion have five players in their squad - Feindouno, Mario Mutsch and Gabri, Jose Goncalves and Billy Ketkeophomphone - who are, in the eyes of FIFA, ineligible to play in the competition. Sion's European squad, though, was approved by the Swiss FA who, along with the club, have reportedly been warned by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino about possible sanctions although the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who will rule on the issue, will not pass their verdict next week.

The Celtic boss, however, expects a positive outcome, and said: "We have sent in letters last week and handed one to the delegate. There is hearing on Tuesday and we will know the outcome after that. If clubs are breaking the rules then every club should break the rule then."

Asked if he would be comfortable about replacing Sion he replied: "Yes."

It was a bad night for Scottish football as Rangers and Hearts were also knocked out of the qualifiers on Thursday. However, Lennon was only concerned about Celtic.

In his first European foray as permanent boss last season the Irishman's side lost to Braga and FC Utrecht in the respective Champions League and Europa League qualifiers but he denied this latest failure was humiliating.

He said: "Humiliating? It's a such a strong word. I don't think it is a humiliation.

"We have to be realistic about things, we are not where we were four or five years ago in Europe.

"I am frustrated that I failed to take the team through.

"I would say to the fans to stick the team and no one is as disappointed as myself with the result."

Source: PA