Celtic crowned champions and Hearts relegated as Premiership concludes

The SPFL has announced that the Ladbrokes Premiership has been concluded with Celtic being crowned champions and Hearts relegated to the second tier.

The decision was made following consultation with all 12 clubs and the SPFL Board. Final standings have been calculated using a points per game system for all remaining games. 

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan stated: “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.”

Scotland’s top-division follows in the footsteps of the Ladbrokes Championship, Ladbrokes League One and Ladbrokes League Two, which also prematurely concluded their campaigns, meaning all Scottish professional football being cancelled until next season. 

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster explained the announcement: “This decision now enables us to pay out around £7 million in fees to help clubs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time. We will begin processing these payments immediately.

“The focus of all those involved in the game will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible. Next season’s Betfred Cup first-round group stage is scheduled to begin in mid-July, with coverage from Premier Sports.  The 2020/21 League Season in all four of our Divisions is due to commence on 1 August, which coincides with the start of our new and exclusive five-year broadcasting deal with Sky Sports.”

Hearts have been relegated following the league’s early conclusion, the side was four points behind 11th placed Hamilton Academical with eight games to go. Meanwhile, Celtic have won a ninth title in a row after being 13 points ahead at the top of the league before the competition was initially postponed. 

Rangers concluded the season in second place with Motherwell narrowly securing third place, resulting in both sides earning Europa League qualification.