Celtic's Neil Lennon left 'disheartened and confused' by court verdict

Celtic's Neil Lennon left 'disheartened and confused' by court verdictThe Celtic chief executive, Peter Lawwell, says the club's manager, Neil Lennon, has been left "disheartened and confused" after a not proven verdict was handed down to a man accused of assaulting him at a match.

On Wednesday a jury at Edinburgh sheriff court failed to convict John Wilson of an assault aggravated by religious prejudice during a game between Hearts and Celtic in May. Wilson was found guilty of breach of the peace.

"I think most people are baffled and find it difficult to comprehend," Lawwell said of the verdict. "I also think there is a human issue there for us to think about because Neil Lennon has been left pretty disheartened and confused.

"In terms of Neil, we will have to help [to] rebuild him after another body blow. I think Neil, like all of us, is confused as to how this [the verdict] could happen."

Celtic will learn on Friday evening whether they are to be reinstated to the Europa League. Sion, who defeated Celtic at the play-off stage, are accused of breaching a transfer embargo and fielding ineligible players in the tie.

The matter will be discussed by Uefa on Friday afternoon, with a Celtic reprieve possible. "We have presented a strong case but we respect it is for others to make a judgment," Lawwell said.

The chief executive could not resist a dig at Rangers, amid reports that an unnamed club bid £9m for the Ibrox club's striker Nikica Jelavic shortly before the transfer window closed. The validity of the offer, said to have been thrown out, has been subject to wide scepticism.

"Last night we had a £29m offer for Gary Hooper," Lawwell joked. "It was from an unknown agent, for an unknown club, in another universe."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ewan Murray, for The Guardian on Thursday 1st September 2011 18.00 Europe/London

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