Neil Lennon quits as Celtic manager with John Kennedy set to replace him

PA Media and Ewan Murray
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA</span>
Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Neil Lennon has resigned as Celtic manager with the club 18 points behind the champions-elect Rangers in the Scottish Premiership. The 49-year-old has been under pressure for months but had previously maintained he would not quit.

His departure comes after Celtic’s defeat at Ross County on Sunday left Rangers seven points from title and heightened the prospect they will secure the prize at Parkhead on 21 March. Since returning to the club in 2019 Lennon has led Celtic to two titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup.

Related: Celtic defeat to Ross County pushes Rangers one step closer to title

There was widespread expectation he would leave at the end of this season. John Kennedy, Lennon’s assistant, is likely to take charge for the remainder of the campaign.

A Celtic statement said: “Neil Lennon has resigned from his position as football manager with immediate effect. Neil has served the club with distinction as both player and manager, delivering numerous successes, most recently completing the domestic treble in December.

“In his second period as Celtic manager, he has achieved five trophy successes, to add to his three League titles and two Scottish Cup victories in his first period as manager.”

Lennon said: “We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.

“I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

“I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.”

Lennon has been subject to vociferous criticism from a section of the Celtic support for months. He returned to the club in early 2019, following the departure of Brendan Rodgers to Leicester. Lennon, a decorated player with the club, also managed Celtic between 2010 and 2014.

When seeking what would have been a record-breaking 10th title in succession, Celtic have failed to win 11 of their 30 league games. There was an exit from the Champions League at the qualifying stage at the hands of Ferencvaros, with County also responsible for elimination from the League Cup.

Celtic’s recruitment has been widely criticised, as was a January training trip to Dubai that led to a raft of negative publicity and forced the isolation of 13 players – plus Lennon – for a draw with Hibernian.

Peter Lawwell, Celtic’s chief executive, said: “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the quadruple treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies.

“Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard … While this season has not progressed as we would have liked, it cannot diminish the character or integrity of a man who has given the club so much.”