Scottish Premiership

The Scottish Premiership , known as the cinch Premiership for sponsorship reasons,[1] 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.[2] 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. Rangers are the current league champions, having won the 2020–21 Scottish Premier League .

Scottish Premiership
Cinch premiership.png
Founded2 August 2013; 8 years ago
Number of teams12
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toScottish 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 championsRangers (1st title)[note 1]
Most championshipsCeltic (7 titles)[note 1]
TV partnersSky Sports
BBC Alba
BBC Scotland
List of international broadcasters
Current: 2021–22 Scottish Premiership

Competition formatEdit

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.[3]


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.[4] 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 it 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 plays 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.[5] 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),[5][6] or a club can end up playing 20 home (or away) games in a season.[7]

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.[4][8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

European qualificationEdit

UEFA country coefficient 2016-21
Rank Association Coefficient
  9   Belgium 36.500
  10   Austria 35.825
  11   Scotland 33.375
  12   Ukraine 33.100
  13   Turkey 30.100

UEFA grants European places to the Scottish Football Association, determined by Scotland's position in the UEFA country coefficient rankings. The Scottish Football Association in turn allocates a number of these European places to final Scottish Premiership positions. At the end of the 2020–21 season, Scotland was ranked 11th in Europe – granting them two sides in the UEFA Champions League, one side in the UEFA Europa League, and two sides in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

For the 2020–21 season, the top placed team in the Scottish Premiership gained qualification to the Champions League third qualifying round, whilst the second placed team entered at the second qualifying round stage. The third and fourth placed teams entered the inaugural Europa Conference League at the qualifying round stage.[11]

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, while third placed team (unless they are cup winners themselves) are promoted from Europa Conference League to the Europa League third qualifying round.

Due to the Europa League group stage spot reserved for the Europa Conference League title holder being vacant in 2021–22, it was expected that the 2020–21 Scottish Cup winner (St Johnstone) would enter the Europa League play-off round instead, thus guaranteeing at least a group stage berth in the Conference League even if that play-off tie was lost.[12] A change in the UEFA access list however meant that this will not happen unless there is a further change in the access list of the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League, with Scotland being the first nation to benefit first from any additional direct entries to the play-off round.[12]

Financial disparityEdit

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.[13] 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.[13]

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.[13]


The 12 clubs listed below are competing in the Scottish Premiership during the 2021–22 season.

Club Location Position in 2020–21 First season in
top division
No. of seasons in top division First season of current
spell in top division
No. of seasons of current spell Scottish Premiership titles (since 2013) National titles Last title
Aberdeen Aberdeen 4th, Scottish Premiership 1905–06 110 1905–06 110  — 4 1984–85
Celtic Glasgow 2nd, Scottish Premiership 1890–91 125 1890–91 125 7 51 2019–20
Dundee Dundee 2nd, Scottish Championship (promoted) 1893–94 108 2021–22 1  — 1 1961–62
Dundee United Dundee 9th, Scottish Premiership 1925–26 61 2020–21 2  — 1 1982–83
Heart of Midlothian Edinburgh 1st, Scottish Championship (promoted) 1890–91 119 2021–22 1  — 4 1959–60
Hibernian Edinburgh 3rd, Scottish Premiership 1895–96 115 2017–18 5  — 4 1951–52
Livingston Livingston 6th, Scottish Premiership 2001–02 9 2018–19 4  —  —  —
Motherwell Motherwell 8th, Scottish Premiership 1903–04 106 1985–86 37  — 1 1931–32
Rangers Glasgow 1st, Scottish Premiership (champions) 1890–91 121 2016–17 6 1 55 2020–21
Ross County Dingwall 10th, Scottish Premiership 2012–13 9 2019–20 3  —  —  —
St Johnstone Perth 5th, Scottish Premiership 1924–25 58 2009–10 13  —  —  —
St Mirren Paisley 7th, Scottish Premiership 1890–91 111 2018–19 4  —  —  —
Location of teams in 2021–22 Scottish Premiership (North Scotland)
Location of teams in 2021–22 Scottish Premiership (South Scotland)
Aberdeen Celtic Dundee Dundee United Heart of Midlothian Hibernian
Pittodrie Stadium Celtic Park Dens Park Tannadice Park Tynecastle Park Easter Road
Capacity: 20,866[14] Capacity: 60,411[15] Capacity: 11,775[16] Capacity: 14,223[17] Capacity: 19,852[18] Capacity: 20,421[19]
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[20] Capacity: 13,677[21] Capacity: 50,817[22] Capacity: 6,541[23] Capacity: 10,696[24] Capacity: 8,023[25]



Season Winners Runners-up Third place Tartan Boot 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, 20 (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)
2020–21 Rangers Celtic Hibernian Odsonne Édouard, 18 (Celtic) James Tavernier (Rangers) Steven Davis (Rangers)

As of 2021, Scotland's top-flight league championship has been won 55 times by Rangers, 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
Rangers 8–0 Hamilton Academical, 8 November 2020[27]
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[28]
Fewest points in a season
21; Dundee, 2018–19
Most wins in a season
34; Celtic, 2016–17[28]
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;[28] Rangers, 2020–21[29]
Most goals scored in a season
106; Celtic, 2016–17[28]
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
13; Rangers, 2020–21[29]
Fastest goal
Kris Boyd, for Kilmarnock against Ross County, 10 seconds, 28 January 2017 [30]
Highest transfer fee paid
Odsonne Édouard, from Paris Saint-Germain to Celtic, £9 million, 15 June 2018[31]
Highest transfer fee received
Kieran Tierney, from Celtic to Arsenal, £25 million, 8 August 2019[32]
Most hat-tricks
Liam Boyce and Leigh Griffiths, 4 each
Youngest player
Dylan Reid, for St Mirren v Rangers, 16 years and 5 days, 6 March 2021[33]
Youngest goalscorer
Jack Aitchison, for Celtic v Motherwell, 16 years and 71 days[34]

Top scorersEdit

As of matches played on 28 November 2021
Leigh Griffiths, the Scottish Premiership's all-time top goalscorer

Scotland international Leigh Griffiths is the top goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership era with 91 goals, followed by Odsonne Edouard and Adam Rooney on 66. Alfredo Morelos, Billy Mckay, Liam Boyce, Kris Boyd, Kris Doolan, and Niall McGinn are the only other players to reach 50 goals since the establishment of the Scottish Premiership.

Rank Player Club(s)[note 4] Apps. Goals Ratio
1   Leigh Griffiths[note 5] Celtic (2014–)
Dundee (2021–)
180 91 0.51
2   Odsonne Édouard Celtic (2017–2021) 116 66 0.57
=   Adam Rooney[note 5] Aberdeen (2014–2018) 151 66 0.44
4   Alfredo Morelos Rangers (2017–) 132 60 0.45
5   Billy Mckay[note 5] Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2013–2015; 2016–2017)
Dundee United (2015–2016)
Ross County (2017–2018; 2019–2021)
183 58 0.32
6   Liam Boyce Ross County (2014–2017)
Heart of Midlothian (2020; 2021–)
119 56 0.47
7   Kris Boyd[note 5] Kilmarnock (2013–2014; 2015–2019) 145 55 0.38
8   Kris Doolan Partick Thistle (2013–2018) 176 54 0.31
9   Niall McGinn[note 5] Aberdeen (2013–2017; 2018–) 241 51 0.21
10   James Forrest[note 5] Celtic (2013–) 196 47 0.24
=   Ryan Christie[note 5] Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2013–2015; 2015–2016)
Aberdeen (2017–2018)
Celtic (2015–2021)
203 47 0.23

Italics denotes players still playing professional football,
Bold denotes players still playing in the Scottish Premiership.

Broadcasting rightsEdit

The SPFL's domestic TV broadcast deal currently ranks 16th in Europe among European Leagues.


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Heart of Midlothian won 4 games in the curtailed 2019–20 season.
  3. ^ St Mirren scored 24 goals in the curtailed 2019–20 season.
  4. ^ Clubs only include those where players scored goals in the Scottish Premiership.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Player also scored goal(s) in the Scottish Premier League.
  1. ^ The 2019–20 Scottish Premiership was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland. The season was subsequently curtailed on 18 May 2020 and a points per game average was used to calculate a final table.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "CINCH ANNOUNCED AS SPFL TITLE SPONSOR". 10 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  2. ^ "SPFL: New Scottish league brands unveiled". BBC Sport. BBC. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  3. ^ "The Rules of the Scottish Professional Football League" (PDF). Scottish Professional Football League. 20 July 2020. pp. 41–42. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b Anderson, Craig (24 July 2013). "The Scottish Premiership 2013/14 in numbers". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b Grant, Michael (8 August 1999). "SPL stand by their split decision". Sunday Herald. Herald & Times Group. Archived from the original on 10 June 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  6. ^ "SPFL: Announcement on last round of fixtures delayed until after weekend". BBC Sport. 4 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Scottish Premiership post-split: Ross County play extra away games". BBC Sport. BBC. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  8. ^ McLaughlin, Chris (28 June 2013). "The new Scottish Professional Football League survives hitch". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  9. ^ McGuiness, Nathan. "The Scottish Professional Football League". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  10. ^ Campbell, Andy (30 April 2013). "Scottish Premier League considers play-off introduction". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Access list 2021-24" (PDF).
  12. ^ a b Fowler, Craig (18 May 2021). "Hibs or St Johnstone may no longer have guaranteed group-stage football as Uefa shift goalposts". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  13. ^ a b c "Celtic: PSG average salary almost nine times that of Scottish champions". BBC Sport. 27 November 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Aberdeen Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  15. ^ "Celtic Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Dundee Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  17. ^ "Dundee United Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Heart of Midlothian Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Hibernian Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Livingston Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Motherwell Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  22. ^ "Rangers Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Ross County Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  24. ^ "St Johnstone Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  25. ^ "St Mirren Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  26. ^ "Celtic champions & Hearts relegated after SPFL ends season". BBC Sport. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  27. ^ "Rangers 8–0 Hamilton". BBC Sport. BBC. 8 November 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  28. ^ a b c d Campbell, Andy (21 May 2017). "Celtic 2–0 Heart of Midlothian". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  29. ^ a b Lindsay, Clive (15 May 2021). "Rangers 4–0 Aberdeen". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  30. ^ "BBC". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  31. ^ Idessane, Kheredine (14 June 2018). "Odsonne Edouard: Celtic agree club record fee for PSG striker". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Kieran Tierney: Celtic defender completes £25m Arsenal move". 8 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Rangers a point from title after victory" – via
  34. ^ English, Tom (15 May 2016). "Celtic 7–0 Motherwell". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2016.

External linksEdit