Lennon leaves Glasgow Celtic

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Neil Lennon has confirmed he has left Glasgow Celtic after four years as manager.

In a brief statement the Lurgan man said: “I have parted company with Celtic.

“The club are in a very strong position and I wish the fans and the club all the very best for the future.”

His statement followed a meeting on Thursday morning with his representative, Martin Reilly, and ahead of scheduled talks with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

“I can’t thank Peter Lawwell and the board enough for their backing and support during my time as manager,” he said.

Lennon led Celtic to three league titles and two Scottish Cups in the four years since taking charge.

He also previously led Celtic to the Champions League last 16, with a victory over Barcelona in November 2012 being his side’s most high-profile achievement.

However, he had concerns about his playing budget for next season and is believed to have been worried that his present side would be unable to negotiate three rounds of qualifying.

With Lennon having a rolling contract with Celtic, there has been annual speculation about his future and he is thought to have been close to leaving the club last summer before deciding to stay.

West Bromwich Albion were believed to be aware of his availability previously before pursuing other targets but are again seeking a new manager after the departure of Pepe Mel.

Lennon has often expressed his desire to eventually manage in the Premier League in England but has been linked with the vacancy at relegated Norwich City.

Former Celtic defender Malky Mackay, sacked by Cardiff City last season, remains favourite to take charge at Carrow Road, with the Canaries having also interviewed fellow ex-Watford boss Gianfranco Zola and Neil Adams, who was given the job until the end of the season after Chris Hughton’s exit.

Lennon’s representative he had “nothing lined up” at another club.

“Four years is a good spell to be manager of a club like Celtic, but now Neil wants to look ahead to the next chapter of his career,” said Reilly.

“He just feels now is the time to move on to the next challenge.”

A former midfielder who started his senior career with Glenavon, Lennon played for Manchester City, Crewe Alexandra and Leicester City before joining Celtic in 2000.

He had a seven-year spell as a player at Celtic Park and returned as first-team coach in 2008 after short spells with Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers.