Celtic chairman Ian Bankier responds to supporter protests for Neil Lennon to be sacked

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Celtic chairman Ian Bankier has responded to supporter calls for current manager Neil Lennon to be sacked.

A number of fan groups have held protests outside Celtic Park in recent weeks calling for the Parkhead manager to be axed and now Bankier has responded.

In a message to supporters the Celtic chairman assured fans that their concerns are being read and “accepted”.

Bankier has declared the club’s review of performances as ongoing as he warned they will not make any hasty decisions.

The board promised a review would be held in the new year when giving manager Neil Lennon a second public vote of confidence in December.

Lennon has remained under pressure and the board have faced calls to divulge the outcome of their review.

Bankier’s message to supporters read: “We have today released our half year trading statement to The Stock Exchange. I want on this occasion to make a separate statement to address various issues raised by supporter shareholders, season ticket holders and the wider body of Celtic fans. 

“In recent weeks, the Club has been the subject of widespread comment mostly concerning, but not limited to, the team’s performance. I have received correspondence from fans expressing their anxiety and seeking information. These messages and feelings are not being ignored and I accept with due humility what has been said. The frustration that is expressed is clear and unambiguous. It is shared throughout the whole Club. That includes, the Directors, our Football Management Team, staff and the players. 

“Across all media platforms, we have been asked to communicate our reaction to events on and off the park and to reveal our decisions and intentions. It is worth saying that over the period in question, the football manager has addressed each and every game we have played. The Club has made announcements dealing with speculation over the Manager’s tenure, the Covid outbreak amongst our players in January, the appointment of a new CEO and player sales and signings at the end of the January transfer window. 

“It is acknowledged that the season, to date, has been a disappointment. We approached it with justifiable confidence. Having been crowned League Champions for the ninth year in a row, we looked forward to making it a Quadruple Treble in the delayed Scottish Cup. We retained a number of highly sought-after players, so as to have the strongest possible squad going into this season. We supplemented our player pool by investing in new player registrations. We had in place a Manager with a proven record and the core of a squad who had created history for the Club.

“But the harsh reality has been that, thus far, we have not achieved the results we have sought. We have not met the consistently high standards that we have become accustomed to. We do not shy away from these cold facts.

“Across the plethora of media channels, comments and criticisms are instant. Evaluating our options in order to make the right decisions at this time in the Club’s history cannot be instant. As things stand today, we are operating under Government-imposed restrictions with no clear horizon.

“We are in the period of review we indicated in our announcement of 7th December. I must state clearly that all decisions we take will be taken calmly and rationally. We will not make hasty decisions that we might regret. There is considerable uncertainty as to how and when the game will get back to normal. Equally, there are opportunities ahead of us, as the structure of European competitions evolves over the next three to five years. Amongst other things, we will be considering how to take full advantage of what comes our way.

“Meanwhile, we cannot alter the timeline of the pandemic. Therefore, we face the prospect of further challenges, whilst we play to an empty stadium where our fans belong. The virtual season ticket scheme has not been and cannot be a substitute for the real thing. We do recognise that. We thank all our season ticket holders for the fantastic loyalty they have shown the Club and, of course, we are working on ways in which we can acknowledge that. Your commitment to a season ticket supports our playing squad and allows us to invest in players, giving Celtic the best chance to deliver the playing success that we all want. The Celtic support at our matches is something we have missed, of that there is simply no question.

“The Covid pandemic has cast its shadow over all aspects of normal life and it continues to present many challenges for our supporters and the communities we all live in. On behalf of the Board, I send our continued thanks, appreciation and warmest wishes to all our supporters. The job of your Board is to look to the future and we should do so with a sense of togetherness in the coming months. IAN P BANKIER”

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