The Scottish Premiership, known as the cinch Premiership for sponsorship reasons, 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, having won the 2021–22 Scottish Premiership.
|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 (8th title)[note 1] |
|Most championships||Celtic (8 titles)[note 1]|
|TV partners||Sky Sports|
List of international broadcasters
|Current: 2022–23 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, that is, split in two phases as is explained below. 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. 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 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 teams in the UEFA Champions League, one team in the UEFA Europa League, and two teams in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
At the end of the 2021–22 season, the Scottish Premiership winners (Celtic) gained qualification to the Champions League group stage, whilst the second placed team (Rangers) entered at the third qualifying round. The third placed team (Heart of Midlothian) entered the Europa League in the playoff round, while the fourth (Dundee United) and fifth (Motherwell) placed teams entered the Europa Conference League in the third and second qualifying rounds respectively.
Scotland's place in the Europa League 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.
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 12 clubs listed below are competing in the Scottish Premiership during the 2022–23 season.
|Club||Location||Position in 2021–22||First season in
|No. of seasons in top division||First season of current
spell in top division
|No. of seasons of current spell||National titles||Last title|
|Aberdeen||Aberdeen||7th, Scottish Premiership||1905–06||111||1905–06||111||4||1984–85|
|Celtic||Glasgow||1st, Scottish Premiership (champions)||1890–91||126||1890–91||126||52||2021–22|
|Dundee United||Dundee||11th, Scottish Premiership||1925–26||62||2020–21||3||1||1982–83|
|Heart of Midlothian||Edinburgh||3rd, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||120||2021–22||2||4||1959–60|
|Hibernian||Edinburgh||5th, Scottish Premiership||1895–96||116||2017–18||6||4||1951–52|
|Kilmarnock||Kilmarnock||1st, Scottish Championship||1899–1900||93||2022–23||1||1||1964–65|
|Livingston||Livingston||4th, Scottish Premiership||2001–02||10||2018–19||5||—||—|
|Motherwell||Motherwell||10th, Scottish Premiership||1903–04||107||1985–86||38||1||1931–32|
|Rangers||Glasgow||2nd, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||122||2016–17||7||55||2020–21|
|Ross County||Dingwall||9th, Scottish Premiership||2012–13||10||2019–20||4||—||—|
|St Johnstone||Perth||8th, Scottish Premiership||1924–25||59||2009–10||14||—||—|
|St Mirren||Paisley||6th, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||112||2018–19||5||—||—|
|Aberdeen||Celtic||Dundee United||Heart of Midlothian||Hibernian||Kilmarnock|
|Pittodrie Stadium||Celtic Park||Tannadice Park||Tynecastle Park||Easter Road||Rugby Park|
|Capacity: 20,866||Capacity: 60,411||Capacity: 14,223||Capacity: 19,852||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|
- Club ranking
UEFA 5-year Club Ranking after 2021/22 season:
- 33. Rangers (50.250)
- 51. Celtic (33.000)
- 136. Aberdeen (9.000)
- 161. St Johnstone (7.380)
- 162. Hibernian (7.380)
- 163. Motherwell (7.380)
- 164. Kilmarnock (7.380)
As of 2022, Scotland's top-flight league championship has been won 55 times by Rangers, 52 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
- Biggest away win
- Dundee United 0–9 Celtic, 28 August 2022
- 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; Rangers, 2020–21
- Most goals scored in a season
- 106; Celtic, 2016–17
- Fewest goals scored in a season
- 24; St Johnstone, 2021–22[note 3]
- Most goals conceded in a season
- 78, Dundee, 2018–19
- Fewest goals conceded in a season
- 13; Rangers, 2020–21
- 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
- Dylan Reid, for St Mirren v Rangers, 16 years and 5 days, 6 March 2021
- Youngest goalscorer
- Jack Aitchison, for Celtic v Motherwell, 16 years and 71 days
- Bold shows players still playing in the Scottish Premiership.
- Italics show players still playing professional football in other leagues.
- As of matches played on 18 March 2023
|1||Leigh Griffiths||92||188||0.49||2014||2022||Celtic (90/173), Dundee (2/15)||[note 4]|
|Adam Rooney||66||151||0.44||2014||2018||Aberdeen||[note 4]|
|5||Liam Boyce||61||144||0.42||2014||2022||Ross County (48/99), Heart of Midlothian (13/43)|
|7||Billy Mckay||59||185||0.32||2013||2021||Inverness Caledonian Thistle (32/78), Dundee United (12/29), Ross County (15/78)||[note 4]|
|8||Kris Boyd||55||145||0.38||2013||2019||Kilmarnock||[note 4]|
|9||Kris Doolan||54||176||0.31||2013||2018||Partick Thistle|
|Niall McGinn||52||259||0.2||2013||2022||Aberdeen (51/244), Dundee (1/15)||[note 4]|
The SPFL's domestic TV broadcast deal currently ranks 16th in Europe among European Leagues.
|United Kingdom||Sky Sports||English||48 live Premiership matches per season from 2020 to 2025 and the play-off final, Saturday-night goal highlights on Sky Sports News.|
|BBC Sport Scotland||Saturday-night Scottish Premiership Highlights of matches from that day. Extended Sunday-night Scottish Premiership Highlights with full weekend review, 20 live Friday-night Scottish Championship matches & the Scottish Premiership Play-Off Quarter-Final & Semi-Final. Friday night magazine programme A View from the Terrace. Online and Social Media Highlights also.|
|STV||Goal Clips during the Sports section of their STV News at Six programme.|
|BBC Alba||Gaelic||38 delayed matches on Saturday evenings and live Championship and League One Playoff Matches.|
|Worldwide||YouTube||English (N/A)||6-10 minute highlights of all Premiership Matches as well as Championship, Leagues One and Two goals available without commentary/narration via the SPFL Youtube Channel.|
- ^ 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.
- ^ Heart of Midlothian won 4 games in the curtailed 2019–20 season.
- ^ St Mirren scored 24 goals in the curtailed 2019–20 season.
- ^ a b c d e Player also scored goal(s) in the Scottish Premier League.
- ^ 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.
- ^ "CINCH ANNOUNCED AS SPFL TITLE SPONSOR". spfl.co.uk. 10 June 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
- ^ "SPFL: New Scottish league brands unveiled". BBC Sport. BBC. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- ^ a b "The Rules and Regulations of the Scottish Professional Football League" (PDF). Scottish Professional Football League. 12 January 2022. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
- ^ a b Anderson, Craig. "The Scottish Premiership 2013/14 in numbers". The Scotsman 24 July 2013.
- ^ 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.
- ^ "SPFL: Announcement on last round of fixtures delayed until after weekend". BBC Sport. 4 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- ^ "Scottish Premiership post-split: Ross County play extra away games". BBC Sport. BBC. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- ^ McLaughlin, Chris. "The new Scottish Professional Football League survives hitch". BBC Sport 28 June 2013.
- ^ McGuiness, Nathan. "The Scottish Professional Football League". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- ^ Campbell, Andy (30 April 2013). "Scottish Premier League considers play-off introduction". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- ^ a b c "Celtic: PSG average salary almost nine times that of Scottish champions". BBC Sport. 27 November 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- ^ "Aberdeen Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- ^ "Celtic Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- ^ "Dundee United Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- ^ "Heart of Midlothian Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
- ^ "Hibernian Football Club". Scottish Professional Football League. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
- ^ "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.
- ^ "Club coefficients".
- ^ "Celtic champions & Hearts relegated after SPFL ends season". BBC Sport. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
- ^ "Rangers 8–0 Hamilton". BBC Sport. BBC. 8 November 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
- ^ a b c d Campbell, Andy (21 May 2017). "Celtic 2–0 Heart of Midlothian". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- ^ a b Lindsay, Clive (15 May 2021). "Rangers 4–0 Aberdeen". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- ^ "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.
- ^ "Rangers a point from title after victory" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- ^ English, Tom (15 May 2016). "Celtic 7–0 Motherwell". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- ^ "Scottish Premiership: Matches to be shown live on Sky only as new TV deal struck". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
- ^ "SPFL PLAY-OFFS ON BBC SCOTLAND". spfl.co.uk. Scottish Professional Football League. 5 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
- ^ OneFootball [@OneFootball] (18 March 2021). "OneFootball 🤝 @spfl in 🇫🇷🇪🇸🇨🇦🇧🇪🇱🇺🇳🇱🇨🇭 Starting with @CelticFC v @RangersFC this weekend, we are delighted to announce selected SPFL matches will be LIVE in the OneFootball app for the remainder of the season! t.co/BzQe3BHMlr" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 7 August 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2022 – via Twitter.
- ^ Johnson, Jonathan (28 July 2021). "CBS Sports and Paramount+ welcome the Scottish Professional Football League to the family". CBS Sports. Retrieved 28 July 2021.