LENNON: WE NEED RANGERS RIVALRY
Neil Lennon maintains Celtic's drive for success will not be diminished by events at Rangers, but feels the Scottish game would be poorer without the direct rivalry between the two clubs.
A deal to sell the debt-laden Ibrox club has been signed with a consortium fronted by former Sheffield United chief executive Charles Green, but it remains uncertain what side Rangers will be able to field in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League next season.
Rangers boss Ally McCoist could face a shortage of experienced players if the club fail to overturn a 12-month embargo on registering players over 17 when they face a Scottish Football Association appeal tribunal on Wednesday, while if a 'newco' option is pushed through, players could leave for nothing under employment law.
Lennon, though, relishes the Old Firm battles, which are unique in the world game.
"Celtic v Rangers is a great selling point for the Scottish game," said Lennon, who was in London today as Celtic donated £50,000 to sponsor a room in Paul's House, the CLIC Sargent Home from Home, near University College Hospital.
"If you look at last two derbies, they were fantastic occasions, with the colour, the energy and the intensity of the games, just the all-round atmosphere.
"It is a great rivalry and it is important that it stays there."
Lennon insists Celtic must not concern themselves with what may eventually transpire at Ibrox as they focus on the new campaign and trying to reach the group stage of the Champions League.
"It will all depend how competitive Rangers are going to be. I don't know what the sanctions will be, if there are any, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it," Lennon said.
"It will not change our outlook on what we are striving to do. "We have a plan in place for next season and have identified three or four players whom we hope to bring in.
"We also need to trim the squad because it is a bit big at the moment."
Celtic have several players out of contract this summer, and Lennon admits there are set to be some tough decisions ahead.
"Already Niall McGinn, Mark Wilson, Richie Towell will leave the club because their contracts are up, and Daniel Majstorovic has signed for Stockholm this week," he said.
"There are a few more who will be out of contract, and I need to know what their plans are themselves.
"There are some I would like to keep, but I am not too sure that is going to be the case."
One player Lennon intends to do all he can to keep at Parkhead is goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who has impressed on his two loan seasons from Newcastle.
"He is a priority for us and hopefully we can get it over the line," said the Celtic boss.
"I think in his mind he is very happy and has been brilliant for us.
"He is a fantastic young keeper with the world at his feet and would just like to have him here with us for another year or so."
Lennon was accompanied by the charity's patrons ex-Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan, boxer Barry McGuigan and singer Sharleen Spiteri, from the Scottish band Texas, at the central London venue on Tuesday afternoon.
CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading cancer charity for children and young people, has nine Homes from Home around the country and provide free accommodation for families close to major cancer treatment centres.
Lennon, who took time to pose for photographs with some youngsters in Celtic shirt and sign autographs, said: "We are delighted to sponsor one of the rooms here at what is a fantastic organisation, where the money has been raised by our London-based supporters, and we can be very proud of what they have achieved here.
"It is what makes our club unique, is something which is in the DNA of the club.
"Celtic was founded for charitable reasons and this is a very special place."
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