May 18 – After weeks of turmoil, claim and counter-claim, Celtic have been crowned Scottish champions for the ninth season in a row after the Scottish Professional Football League opted to curtail the current league season despite considerable opposition – joining the likes of France, Holland and Belgium in halting fixtures because of Covid-19.
Just as significantly is that Hearts, arguably the biggest club in Scotland outside the two Glasgow giants, are relegated to the Championship for the second time since 2014.
The SPFL held a board meeting on Monday morning where they decided to bring the campaign to an end, meaning a 51st league title for Celtic.
The final standings were based on points per game in league matches played to March 13 at which point Celtic held a 13-point lead over Rangers having played one more game.
In April, the 42 SPFL clubs voted controversially to end the season in the Championship, League One and League Two prematurely but no decision was made regarding the top flight.
Hearts owner Ann Budge had threatened to take legal action if the season was not completed but SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan explained: “We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters.
“This is not the way anybody involved with Scottish football would have wanted to conclude the league season but, given the grave and unprecedented circumstances that we are facing, the board has agreed that it is the only practical way forward.
“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time. Scottish Government restrictions and deep concerns for both player and spectator safety left the SPFL with no realistic option but to call the Ladbrokes Premiership now and we thank the Premiership clubs for their support on this decision.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said the “clear and unanimous view” of the clubs was that games could not be played. He said the league can now pay out around £7 million of prize money immediately.
“The focus will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible,” Doncaster said. “Nobody should be under any illusion as to how complicated and difficult a challenge it will be to return Scottish football to normality.”
Bizarrely the Scottish season has not ended entirely with the Scottish Cup still due to be completed with the tournament at the semi-final stage.
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