Rangers' absence won't affect Celtic budget, says Neil Lennon

By Chris McLaughlinSenior Football Reporter, BBC Scotland

Neil Lennon says the absence of Rangers should not affect his transfer budget at Celtic next season.

Rangers' newco attempt to join the top flight was rejected and they now wish to join the Scottish Football League.

Lennon admits he will miss the Old Firm games, but insists Celtic must move on and think about the future.

"It will bite us a bit but the club has its own financial structure and strategy in place and we'll move ahead regardless," Lennon said.

"We always try and maintain a level ground on the spending going out and the money that we bring in.

"That hasn't changed and that was the plan going into the season anyway, regardless of the outcome."

With no Old Firm derbies due to take place in the coming season, Lennon feels the Scottish game is losing one of its main attractions.

"There's that competitiveness, that rivalry, you are obviously going to miss the games," said Lennon.

"It's a great selling point for Scottish football but they are not here and there's nothing I can do about that.

"What I will say is we need our supporters to back the team now more than ever, to come and support us and invest in the club because we are going to be hit financially by the loss of Rangers in the SPL.

"We have a lot to look forward to. We are the champions and the most important thing is to retain the championship.

"Europe is something that we would like to progress in and take this team forward with."

Lennon, who expects to make "one or two" signings this summer, says it is difficult to predict the wider impact of Rangers' absence from the SPL.

"I don't know what sort of ripple effect there will be," he said.

"It may make the league more competitive. We may see a renaissance in some clubs. I expect some of the clubs to improve.

"Everyone's talking about this league being a foregone conclusion. We don't see it that way. There's probably extra pressure on us now.

"People will say with Rangers out of the way it should be comfortable but it never is."