Neil Lennon hits out at 'slap on wrist' for Hearts over fan attack

Neil Lennon has criticised the Scottish football authorities for not punishing Hearts after he was physically attacked on the touchline at Tynecastle in May.

The Celtic manager takes his team to Hearts on Sunday, Lennon's first appearance at the Edinburgh ground since the incident during their 3-0 win in the spring. A Hearts supporter, John Wilson, was convicted of a breach of the peace and sentenced to eight months in prison after running from a stand to lunge at Lennon.

Hearts escaped without sanction after arguing that they had warned police about the potential for trouble at the fixture. "The guy served time," Lennon said. "Whether it was long enough or not is not for me to say. As regards the footballing punishment, it didn't seem to be anything.

"Hearts seemed to get a slap on the wrist and that was that. So I'm disappointed with that. I don't want to sit here and chastise any club – and it's not Hearts' fault – but I do feel that the authorities should have had some sort of fine imposed."

On the security for Sunday's game, Lennon said: "I've not really thought about it. It's not something that's overly concerning me at the minute.

"I think it could be one of the safest places for me to be on Sunday. Security measures will be tightened. I'm sure everyone – certainly at Hearts – wouldn't like to see a repeat of what happened.

"I don't know what security requirements have been set and I probably won't know until tomorrow, but I'd imagine that things would be a lot tighter than they were last time."

Lennon recalled his emotions of that infamous night. Around that time, he had been subjected to threats towards his life. "Endangered, annoyed, upset and angry," he said. "You get angry at football things but this was nothing to do with football and that was the one incident out of them all that annoyed me the most."

The Celtic manager maintained that he "likes Tynecastle", however. After the attack, the Northern Irishman expressed hope that a tipping point had occurred in Scottish football and particularly with regard to negative focus towards him. "I think everyone had just about had enough of the adverse publicity the game was getting up here," he said. "That for me was the most distasteful episode of the lot.

"I think we're past that stage now. Things have calmed down this season. There's been no major controversy to stir up the pot but as a manager you don't like to think you would be placed in that sort of situation again."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ewan Murray, for The Guardian on Friday 30th September 2011 23.03 Europe/London

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