Celtic boss Neil Lennon has ironically claimed the fact that he has several players unavailable for the Rangers match due to coronavirus protocol “dilutes” the “integrity of the competition”.
Lennon was speaking after four Celtic players were directly affected by Covid-19 during the international break with three definitely missing out on the match.
Despite the fact other teams have been affected and that the coronavirus pandemic cannot really at this point be helped, Lennon still voiced his frustration over the situation.
The Celtic boss even suggested they would not release players for international duty if they aren’t given assurances that players would be protected.
“It can’t go on the way it is going because we are losing too many players. Not just us, but a lot of other clubs as well,” said Lennon [Sky Sports].
“Even countries. Look at the Czech Republic for example, in the previous round they had to completely change the squad.
“It totally dilutes the quality and integrity of the competition.
“It is very difficult for me to say you are not going to play for your country, that is something that I would never want to do to a player.
“But these are unprecedented times and we are in a very difficult situation.
“Even at home now, it looks like the virus is ramping up. So ideally we don’t want them to travel, but we are not going to point the finger at them and say you can’t go.”
Lennon’s frustrated comments come after the SPFL awarded Celtic a title and relegated clubs across Scottish football despite less than three quarters of the season having been played.
Awarding trophies without actually earning them has probably done more to dilute the integrity of the competition than missing a few players through coronavirus.
Whilst the rest of Europe was playing out their final fixtures, Celtic were awarded a title which they did not win on the pitch.
With the footballing environment now equal – Rangers actually had more players out on international duty during the break – this sounds very much like frustration from Lennon.
Whilst Lennon might complain, all clubs are likely to be affected by this at one point and the situation really is outwith football’s control.
But where was this stance when Celtic were being handed the title?