The fallout from Wednesday night's controversial Old Firm derby has taken a sinister turn, with police intercepting a second suspicious package within three months addressed to the Celtic manager Neil Lennon. The parcel, which police believe originated in Lanarkshire, was stopped at a sorting office in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, as security surrounding Lennon was stepped up. In January, a package containing bullets and destined for Lennon was intercepted at a postal depot in Northern Ireland.
"We can confirm we are currently investigating a suspicious package discovered at a Royal Mail sorting office in Chapelwell Street, Saltcoats," said Strathclyde police on Friday. "The package was examined and the incident is being treated as a hoax. Inquiries are ongoing."
As the debate about Wednesday's tempestuous game – at the end of which Lennon clashed with the Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist – rages on, the Celtic manager was accompanied by security officials for Friday's training session and missed his media conference.
Lennon has also increased levels of security at his home after threats to his safety were reportedly made last month. The 39-year-old has become accustomed to attention, routinely of a negative kind, during his time as Celtic player and manager. It now remains to be seen whether or not Lennon regards the latest incidents as worth considering his position over.
Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, has said he has been struck by police concerns regarding the Old Firm fixture. The Scottish Police Federation has suggested the Glasgow derby could be banned, played behind closed doors or not shown on television in a bid to halt external violence. On Wednesday, it was on- rather than off-field matters that were troublesome, but Smith has concerns.
"Who could disagree with them?" said Smith of the strong police viewpoint. "They live it. They see it. They are the people who experience it. We play the game, we get on the bus, we head back to our stadium. The police, and others, have to live with the aftermath of it. If it is becoming a major problem and the Old Firm fixture itself is at the centre of it then, yes, they should do something about it.
"It is a sobering moment when someone says to you 'we're having a problem we can't handle.' You then ask – is any football match worth it?"
Smith accepted Rangers' role in Wednesday's incidents. The McCoist and Lennon spat aside, Smith watched three of his players – Steven Whittaker, Madjid Bougherra and El Hadji Diouf – receive red cards. "We all have a responsibility, me included," said the Rangers manager. "We have to try as hard as we can to keep our discipline. The other night we fell short of the standards we would expect. In terms of the football, I take full responsibility for my team. For everything that happened. I have to make sure that Rangers do a wee bit better [in terms of discipline].
"Sometimes there is an overreaction after these games, but I'm not so sure this time there has been. We all have to take care of what we're doing.
"The other night fell short of the standards we would expect."
As he prepares to depart Ibrox in the summer, Smith added that he will not miss Old Firm encounters.
"They never have been that pleasant," he said. "I always think I can get motivated and I always felt I was fairly well motivated in anything I did, but all the stuff that surrounds the Old Firm game makes it harder for you to do that."
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