Neil Lennon has resigned as Celtic manager with bitter rivals Rangers closing in on the Scottish Premiership title.

The Hoops are 18 points adrift of Steven Gerrard's side after Sunday's 1-0 loss at Ross County, leaving their hopes of a 10th consecutive championship in tatters.

Celtic confirmed on Wednesday that Lennon, who won the league twice after returning in May 2019, has brought his second spell at the helm to an end.

"We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously," the 49-year-old told the club's official website.

"I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

"I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters."

Lennon's return to Celtic also yielded two Scottish Cups and a League Cup, having won the former twice in his first stint, along with three league titles.

Assistant manager John Kennedy will take interim charge of the team, with Celtic hosting Aberdeen on Saturday.

Celtic confirmed on Monday that manager Neil Lennon and 13 senior players are self-isolating, but the club are still defending the decision to hold a training camp in Dubai.

Defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for COVID-19 after the team returned to Scotland ahead of Monday's Premiership clash with Hibernian.

Although all other squad and staff members returned negative tests, Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players are self-isolating after being deemed close contacts.

The reigning champions remain insistent they followed "rigorous" COVID-secure protocols and that the threat of contracting the virus would have been similarly high had they stayed in Scotland.

In a statement, Celtic said: "Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.    

"These protocols have served us well in the past, as the club has not had one positive case in our own 'bubble' until now. As we have already stated, Celtic's decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons. Whilst we were in Dubai, the announcements made on January 4 significantly changed the COVID landscape.  

"The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.
 
"Celtic has done everything it can to ensure we have in place the very best procedures and protocols. From the outset of the pandemic, Celtic has worked closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish football and we will continue to do so."

Rangers took a huge step towards winning the Scottish Premiership title as Callum McGregor's own goal gave them a 1-0 Old Firm derby win over Celtic.

Steven Gerrard's unbeaten team now lead their fierce rivals by a formidable 19 points at the top of the table.

Celtic still have three games in hand but their hopes of clinching a historic 10th straight title look increasingly slim, with this result piling the pressure on manager Neil Lennon.

Champions Celtic had the better of Saturday's match at Ibrox, but the tables were turned when Nir Bitton was sent off after 62 minutes.

Callum McGregor then inadvertently gave Rangers, who did not register a shot on target in the contest, a priceless winning goal.

Celtic made an excellent start and it took two pivotal saves from goalkeeper Allan McGregor to stop the visitors from going into an early lead.

He impressively got down low to deny Odsonne Edouard, who had not played in the last meeting between the sides, which Rangers won 2-0 in October.

The Rangers keeper then produced an even better fingertip stop to tip a 25-yard shot from Leigh Griffiths that was destined to find the top corner onto the post.

Gerrard brought on Ianis Hagi – who had been dropped from the starting XI in place of Ryan Kent – at half-time, with Kemar Roofe coming off and his side gradually began to improve.

Rangers got a big boost when Bitton was dismissed after wrestling Alfredo Morelos to the ground as the striker attempted to race on to a James Tavernier pass and looked like he had a clear path to goal.

They moved in front after 70 minutes, Joe Aribo flicking a Tavernier onto Callum McGregor, whose arm deflected the ball beyond Vasilios Barkas.

Celtic substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi shot just over but there was no way back for the 10 men, who have now lost three straight league derbies for the first time since 2008.

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