The Scottish Premiership is the top division of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), the league competition for men's professional football clubs in Scotland. The Scottish Premiership was established in July 2013, after the SPFL was formed by a merger of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League. There are 12 teams in this division, with each team playing 38 matches per season. Sixteen clubs have played in the Scottish Premiership since its creation in the 2013–14 season. Celtic are the current league champions, being the only league champion to date since its establishment.
|Number of teams||12|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Scottish Championship|
|Domestic cup(s)||Scottish Cup|
|League cup(s)||Scottish League Cup|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League|
UEFA Europa League
UEFA Europa Conference League
|Current champions||Celtic (7th title)[note 1] |
|Most championships||Celtic (7 titles)[note 1]|
|TV partners||Sky Sports|
List of international broadcasters
|2020–21 Scottish Premiership|
Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned league champion. If the points, goal difference, goals scored, and head-to-head results between teams are equal, a play-off game held at a neutral venue shall be played to determine the final placings. The play-off will only occur when the position of the teams affects the outcome of the title, European qualification, relegation, or second stage group allocation and shall not occur otherwise.
The top flight of Scottish football has contained 12 clubs since the 2000–01 season, the longest period without change in the history of the Scottish football league system. During this period the Scottish Premier League, and now the Scottish Premiership, has operated a "split" format. This is used to prevent the need for a 44-game schedule, based on playing each other four times. That format was used in the Scottish Premier Division in the mid-1980s and early 1990s but is now too high a number of games in a league season.
A season, which runs from August until May, is divided into two phases. During the first phase, each club plays three games against every other team, either once at home and twice away or vice versa. After this first phase of matches, by which time all clubs have played 33 games, the league splits into two halves - a 'top six' section and a 'bottom six' section. Each club proceeds to play a further five matches, one against each of the other five teams in their own section. Points achieved during the first phase of 33 matches are carried forward to the second phase, but the teams compete only within their own sections during the second phase. After the first phase is completed, clubs cannot move out of their own half in the league, even if they achieve more or fewer points than a higher or lower ranked team, respectively.
At the beginning of each season, the SPFL 'predicts' the likely positions of each club in order to produce a fixture schedule that ensures the best possible chance of all clubs playing each other twice at home and twice away. This is known as the league seeding and is based on clubs' performance in the previous season. If the clubs do not finish in the half where they are predicted to finish, then anomalies can be created in the fixture list. Clubs sometimes play another three times at home and once away (or vice versa), or a club can end up playing 20 home (or away) games in a season.
Promotion and relegationEdit
The bottom placed Premiership club at the end of the season is relegated, and swaps places with the winner of the Scottish Championship, provided that the winner satisfies Premiership entry criteria. With the creation of the SPFL, promotion and relegation play-offs involving the top flight were introduced for the first time in seventeen years. The Premiership club in eleventh place plays the Championship play-off winners over two legs, with the winner earning the right to play in the Scottish Premiership the following season. This enables two clubs to be relegated from the Premiership each season, with two being promoted. Prior to the creation of the Scottish Premiership, only a single club could be relegated each season - with only the second tier champions being promoted. The Scottish Football League had used play-offs amongst its three divisions since 2007.
UEFA grants European places to the Scottish Football Association, determined by the Scotland's position in the UEFA country coefficient rankings. The Scottish Football Association in turn allocate a number of these European places to final Scottish Premiership positions. At the end of the 2019–20 season, Scotland was ranked 14th in Europe – granting them two sides in the UEFA Champions League, one side in the UEFA Europa League, and two sides in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League.
For the 2020–21 season, the top placed team in the Scottish Premiership gains qualification to the Champions League third qualifying round, whilst the second placed team enters at the second qualifying round stage. The third and fourth placed teams enter the Europa Conference League at the second qualifying round stage.
Scotland's place in the Europa League third qualifying round is awarded to the winners of the Scottish Cup. Should the winners of that competition have already qualified for European competition, then the fifth placed team also enters the Europa Conference League second qualifying round.
Due to the Europa League group stage spot reserved for the Europa Conference League title holder being vacant in 2021–22, it is expected that the Scottish Cup winners will enter the Europa League play-off round instead, thus guaranteeing at least a Europa Conference League group stage berth if the play-off tie was lost.
The 2017 'Global Sports Salaries Survey' report found a large variation between the wages offered by teams in the Scottish Premiership, with champions Celtic paying an average annual salary of £735,040, per player, whilst traditional rivals Rangers could only pay £329,600 and league runners-up Aberdeen offered £136,382. The lowest salary offered by any of the twelve member clubs was Hamilton's £41,488 – 17 times less than Celtic, whose wages were close to the sum of the other eleven clubs combined.
The report stated that this disparity was the third-greatest from the 18 leagues surveyed, and that the Scottish Premiership offered the third-lowest salaries of those leagues; by contrast, Celtic's opponents in the Champions League that year paid average wages of £6.5m (Paris Saint-Germain) and £5.2m (Bayern Munich), seven times higher than the Scottish club.
The clubs listed below have competed in the Scottish Premiership since it was formed in 2013. Clubs currently playing in the league are shown in bold.
|Club||Position in 2019–20||First season in
|First season of current
spell in top division
|Aberdeen||4th, Scottish Premiership||1905–06||1905–06||1984–85|
|Celtic||1st, Scottish Premiership (champions)||1890–91||1890–91||2019–20|
|Dundee||3rd, Scottish Championship||1893–94||—||1961–62|
|Dundee United||1st, Scottish Championship (promoted)||1925–26||2020–21||1982–83|
|Hamilton Academical||11th, Scottish Premiership||1906–07||2014–15||—|
|Heart of Midlothian||12th, Scottish Premiership (relegated)||1890–91||—||1959–60|
|Hibernian||7th, Scottish Premiership||1895–96||2017–18||1951–52|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||2nd, Scottish Championship||2004–05||—||—|
|Kilmarnock||8th, Scottish Premiership||1899–1900||1992–93||1964–65|
|Livingston||5th, Scottish Premiership||2001–02||2018–19||—|
|Motherwell||3rd, Scottish Premiership||1903–04||1985–86||1931–32|
|Partick Thistle||10th, Scottish Championship (relegated)||1897–98||—||—|
|Rangers||2nd, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||2016-17||2010–11|
|Ross County||10th, Scottish Premiership||2012–13||2019–20||—|
|St Johnstone||6th, Scottish Premiership||1924–25||2009–10||—|
|St Mirren||9th, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||2018–19||—|
|Aberdeen||Celtic||Dundee United||Hamilton Academical||Hibernian||Kilmarnock|
|Pittodrie Stadium||Celtic Park||Tannadice Park||New Douglas Park||Easter Road||Rugby Park|
|Capacity: 20,866||Capacity: 60,411||Capacity: 14,223||Capacity: 6,018||Capacity: 20,421||Capacity: 17,889|
|Livingston||Motherwell||Rangers||Ross County||St Johnstone||St Mirren|
|Almondvale Stadium||Fir Park||Ibrox Stadium||Victoria Park||McDiarmid Park||St Mirren Park|
|Capacity: 8,716||Capacity: 13,677||Capacity: 50,817||Capacity: 6,541||Capacity: 10,696||Capacity: 8,023|
|Season||Winner||Runner-up||Third||Top scorer||Players' Player of the Year||Writers' Player of the Year|
|2013–14||Celtic||Motherwell||Aberdeen||Kris Commons 27 (Celtic)||Kris Commons (Celtic)||Kris Commons (Celtic)|
|2014–15||Celtic||Aberdeen||Inverness CT||Adam Rooney 18 (Aberdeen)||Stefan Johansen (Celtic)||Craig Gordon (Celtic)|
|2015–16||Celtic||Aberdeen||Heart of Midlothian||Leigh Griffiths 31 (Celtic)||Leigh Griffiths (Celtic)||Leigh Griffiths (Celtic)|
|2016–17||Celtic||Aberdeen||Rangers||Liam Boyce 23 (Ross County)||Scott Sinclair (Celtic)||Scott Sinclair (Celtic)|
|2017–18||Celtic||Aberdeen||Rangers||Kris Boyd 18 (Kilmarnock)||Scott Brown (Celtic)||Scott Brown (Celtic)|
|2018–19||Celtic||Rangers||Kilmarnock||Alfredo Morelos 18 (Rangers)||James Forrest (Celtic)||James Forrest (Celtic)|
|2019–20[a]||Celtic||Rangers||Motherwell||Odsonne Édouard 22 (Celtic)||Not awarded||Odsonne Édouard (Celtic)|
As of 2020, Scotland's top-flight league championship has been won 54 times by Rangers and 51 times by Celtic. Nine other clubs have won the remaining 19 championships, with three clubs tied for third place with 4 apiece. The last time the championship was won by a club other than Rangers or Celtic was in 1984–85, by Aberdeen.
Records and awardsEdit
- Biggest home win
- Celtic 8–1 Hamilton Academical, 19 January 2016
- Biggest away win
- Dundee 0–7 Aberdeen, 31 March 2017
- Most goals in a game
- Hibernian 5–5 Rangers, 13 May 2018
- Most points in a season
- 106; Celtic, 2016–17
- Fewest points in a season
- 21; Dundee, 2018–19
- Most wins in a season
- 34; Celtic, 2016–17
- Fewest wins in a season
- 5; Dundee, 2018–19[note 2]
- Most draws in a season
- 15, Dundee, 2015–16
- Fewest draws in a season
- 3, St Mirren, 2014–15
- Most defeats in a season
- 27, Dundee, 2018–19
- Fewest defeats in a season
- 0; Celtic, 2016–17
- Most goals scored in a season
- 106; Celtic, 2016–17
- Fewest goals scored in a season
- 28; Hamilton Academical, 2018–19[note 3]
- Most goals conceded in a season
- 78, Dundee, 2018–19
- Fewest goals conceded in a season
- 17; Celtic, 2014–15
- Fastest goal
- Kris Boyd, for Kilmarnock against Ross County, 10 seconds, 28 January 2017 
- Highest transfer fee paid
- Odsonne Édouard, from Paris Saint-Germain to Celtic, £9 million, 15 June 2018
- Highest transfer fee received
- Kieran Tierney, from Celtic to Arsenal, £25 million, 8 August 2019
- Most hat-tricks
- Liam Boyce and Leigh Griffiths, 4 each
- Youngest player
- Dean Campbell, for Aberdeen v Celtic, 16 years and 54 days
- Youngest goalscorer
- Jack Aitchison, for Celtic v Motherwell, 16 years and 71 days
- As of matches played on 17 October 2020
Scotland international Leigh Griffiths is the top goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership era with 85 goals, all for Celtic, followed by Aberdeen's Adam Rooney with 66. Kris Boyd, Kris Doolan, Billy McKay, Niall McGinn, Liam Boyce and Odsonne Edouard are the only other players to reach 50 goals since the establishment of the Scottish Premiership.
|1||Leigh Griffiths[note 5]||Celtic (2014–)||153||85||1.80|
|2||Adam Rooney[note 5]||Aberdeen (2014–2018)||151||66||2.29|
|3||Kris Boyd[note 5]||Kilmarnock (2013–2014; 2015–2019)||145||55||2.64|
|4||Billy Mckay[note 5]||Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2013–2015; 2016–2017)
Dundee United (2015–2016)
Ross County (2017–2018; 2019–)
|=||Kris Doolan||Partick Thistle (2013–2018)||176||54||3.26|
|6||Niall McGinn[note 5]||Aberdeen (2013–2017; 2018–)||217||51||4.25|
|7||Odsonne Édouard||Celtic (2017–)||88||50||1.76|
|=||Liam Boyce||Ross County (2014–2017)
Heart of Midlothian (2020)
|9||Alfredo Morelos||Rangers (2017–)||100||47||2.13|
|10||Steve MacLean[note 5]||St Johnstone (2013–2018)
Heart of Midlothian (2018–2020)
|=||James Forrest[note 5]||Celtic (2013–)||185||46||4.02|
The SPFL's domestic TV broadcast deal currently ranks 16th in Europe amongst European Leagues.
- The Scottish Premiership has only existed since 2013. For a complete record of clubs that have won Scottish league championships, see list of Scottish football champions.
- Heart of Midlothian won 4 games in the curtailed 2019–20 season.
- St Mirren scored 24 goals in the curtailed 2019–20 season.
- Clubs only include those where players scored goals in the Scottish Premiership.
- Player also scored goal(s) in the Scottish Premier League.
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- "Celtic Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Dundee United Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "Hamilton Academical Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Hibernian Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
- "Kilmarnock Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Livingston Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "Motherwell Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Rangers Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Ross County Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "St Johnstone Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "St Mirren Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "Celtic champions & Hearts relegated after SPFL ends season". BBC Sport. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- "Celtic 8–1 Hamilton". BBC Sport. BBC. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
- Campbell, Andy (21 May 2017). "Celtic 2–0 Heart of Midlothian". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- "BBC". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
- Idessane, Kheredine (14 June 2018). "Odsonne Edouard: Celtic agree club record fee for PSG striker". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- "Kieran Tierney: Celtic defender completes £25m Arsenal move". 8 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- English, Tom (15 May 2016). "Celtic 7–0 Motherwell". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2016.