The top league in Scotland is The Scottish Premiership which was established in 2013 following the merger between the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League to create the Scottish Professional Football League or SPFL. Prior to this the SPL ran from 1998 to 2013.
The league also operates a controversial split system which see’s the final 5 games being played between the top 6 and the bottom 6. This means a team can finish seventh on more points than the 6th placed team.
There is one automatic relegation spot in 12th place and those that finish 11th will face the winner of the Championship play off in another 2 leg game to see who gets the other position in the top flight.
The highest attendance to be recorded in the top flight of Scottish football was at Ibrox on January 2nd 1939 when 118,567 people attended the game between Rangers and Celtic which Rangers went on to win 2-1.
These days’ attendances are considerably lower due to most stadiums being seated and health and safety rules regarding the amount of people legally allowed in specific stadiums.
This 2016/17 season, as of the start of January 2017, has seen an increase of almost 40% in clubs attendances which can largely be attributed to the return of Rangers to the top flight. The highest average attendances can be found in Glasgow with Celtic averaging around 55,000 per game and Rangers 49,000 while the lowest attendances are found at Hamilton who get around 2,700 per game.
The average attendance in the Scottish top flight evens out at around 13,400.
Of the 12 Stadiums currently in the Scottish Top Flight capacities vary considerably as you can see below.
Aberdeen, Pittodrie Stadium – 20,866
Celtic, Celtic Park – 60,411
Dundee, Dens Park – 11.506
Hamilton Academicals, New Douglas Park – 5,510
Heart of Midlothian, Tynecastle Stadium – 17,480
Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Caledonian Stadium – 7,750
Kilmarnock, Rugby Park – 17,889
Motherwell, Fir Park – 13,677
Partick Thistle, Firhill Stadium – 10,102
Rangers, Ibrox Stadium – 50,817
Ross County, Victoria Park – 6,541
St Johnstone, McDiarmid Park – 10,696
Due to deals being different every year prize money can fluctuate but during the 2015/16 season the winners received around £2.8m and second place £2m.
For finishing bottom the prize money almost came to £1m which was more than double that of winning the league below.
The Scottish national team is run by the Scottish Football Association or SFA as it is more commonly known. After playing the world’s first international fixture in 1872 against England, or the ‘Auld Enemy’ as they are sometimes known in Scotland, they are the joint oldest national team alongside England.
Scotland compete in the most important International Tournament, the World Cup, as well as the most important European competition, the European Championships.
The national team hasn’t qualified for the World Cup sing France ’98 where they were narrowly defeated 2-1 by the World Cup holders at that time, Brazil. Despite falling behind to a 5th minute Cesar Sampaio goal Scotland showed character in battling back and equalising through a 38th minute penalty by John Collins. A Tom Boyd own goal in the 78th minute dashed any hope of a shock result in that game.
After drawing 1-1 with Norway Scotland went on to be defeated 3-0 by Morocco and exited the tournament after finishing bottom of their group. Despite qualifying 8 times for the World Cup, Scotland has never qualified beyond the first round.
Scotland has only qualified for the European Championships twice in 1992 and 1996. The 1996 tournament which was held in England saw Scotland come agonisingly close to qualification after finishing joint second in the group stages with the Netherlands who qualified on goals scored.
The most capped Scottish player is legend Kenny Dalglish who played for the Scottish national team 102 times. The highest goal scorer in Scotland’s history is Denis Law who netted 30 times for his country but it is Hughie Gallacher who has the highest goal per game ration at 1.2 after scoring 24 in 20.
The SPFL broadcast rights are shared by Sky Sports and BT Sport. The value of which has grown varied with the top flight missing Rangers, Hearts and Hibs in recent years but with all but Hibs back the value has grown considerably.
The international rights were bought by MP & Silva on a 10 year deal for £20million with games being shown as far away as China.
Most successful teams
The most successful team in Scottish football is Rangers who have a world record 54 top flight championships while Celtic are in second with 47. Aberdeen, Heart and Hibs are all on 4.
There are a number of historic records that are still kept in place including the most top flight goals being held by Jimmy McGrory of Celtic and Clydebank with 410. The most goals in a season goes to Willie MacFadyen of Motherwell in who scored 52 in the 1931-32 season. Bob Ferrier of Motherwell made the most top flight appearances with 626