How Neil Lennon could return to Celtic with Omonia Nicosia as European scenario mapped out


If Neil Lennon ever manages against Celtic again it’s going to be a very odd occasion.

The Parkhead legend has done it before, of course, in his time as Hibs boss but that was before his ill-fated return.

The collapse of the 10 In A Row dream saw Lennon’s second spell end in acrimony, with many supporters not yet ready to forgive him for a dire campaign.

Many expected the Irishman to resurface in Scotland but instead he’s accepted the job at Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus.

That doesn’t mean though that the former Hoops captain and manager won’t be returning to face his old side in the near future, with the possibility both sides will be involved in European competition.

Nicosia are in the bottom half of the Cypriot league after a Premiership-style split but the chance remains they’ll be involved next season.

So, how likely is it that Lennon will be returning to try and knock his former side out of Europe? Well, not that likely. But it is possible.

Here’s what needs to happen.

Omonia Nicosia win the cup

Lennon’s record in the cups wasn’t always the best, at least not in his first spell.

The Irishman saw his side denied by the likes of Ross County, Kilmarnock and Hearts in knockout competitions, though his record of four Scottish Cups and League Cup would be the envy of most.




If he can lift silverware in Cyprus, the first domino will fall for a rapidfire Celtic reunion.

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The winners of the Cypriot Cup will go into the main path of the third qualifying round of the Europa League, where if everything else falls into place they could well face Celtic.

Celtic don’t win the title

They’re currently three points clear at the top with eight games to go, and that looks almost certain to guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League group stage.

The race is far from over though, and if Celtic fail to take the title another domino falls in the ‘facing Neil Lennon’ timeline.

Russian teams are reinstated to UEFA competition

Things get even more complicated when we consider the second possible scenario, and clearly the issue of Russian teams being in Europe is nothing compared to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

As things stand though, the indefinite suspension imposed by UEFA would mean both the Russian champions and second place side would be excluded from the Champions League.




That would see other sides bumped up the rankings to take the spots Russia would have held.

If those two sides were reinstated though – and Celtic don’t win the league – they would begin their campaign in the second qualifying round, which brings up the next scenario.

Europa League winners don’t qualify via their league

We’re all familiar with what happens if the Champions League winners don’t qualify via their league, but what if that applies to the Europa League winners?

Basically that ensures that, in this scenario, Celtic would be in the second qualifying round for the big cup – and that has to happen for them to meet their former boss.

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Celtic lose in the Champions League second qualifying round

So, if all of the above happens we’re firmly into ‘it could happen’ territory.

The next step in the process would be for Celtic to lose in their first Champions League qualifier against the second placed team from Ukraine, Austria, Cyprus, Turkey or Denmark.

That would see them drop into the main path of the Europa League third qualifying round where…

Draw Omonia Nicosia

Celtic would play the cup winners from either Turkey, Denmark, or Cyprus.

Which means that if all of the above comes to pass, there would be a 33 per cent chance of a meeting with Neil Lennon.

It’s not likely, and a statistician could probably tell you there’s more chance of being hit by lightning.

But if this very specific timeline comes to pass, it’s at least possible.




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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