|Founded||2 August 2013; 8 years ago|
|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||Rangers (1st title)[note 1] |
|Most championships||Celtic (7 titles)[note 1]|
|TV partners||Sky Sports|
List of international broadcasters
|Current: 2021–22 Scottish Premiership|
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. Rangers are the current league champions, having won the 2020–21 Scottish Premiership. This was their 55th Scottish league championship in total, and it ended a run of nine straight league titles by Celtic.
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. 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 relegation
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 sides in the UEFA Champions League, one side in the UEFA Europa League, and two sides in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League.
For the 2020–21 season, the top placed team in the Scottish Premiership gains qualification to the Champions League third qualifying round, whilst the second placed team enters at the second qualifying round stage. The third and fourth placed teams enter the Europa Conference League at the second qualifying round stage.
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.
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. 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.
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 clubs listed below have competed in the Scottish Premiership since it was formed in 2013. Clubs currently playing in the league are shown in bold.
|Club||Position in 2020–21||First season in
|First season of current
spell in top division
|Aberdeen||4th, Scottish Premiership||1905–06||1905–06||1984–85|
|Celtic||2nd, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||1890–91||2019–20|
|Dundee||2nd, Scottish Championship (promoted)||1893–94||2021–22||1961–62|
|Dundee United||9th, Scottish Premiership||1925–26||2020–21||1982–83|
|Hamilton Academical||12th, Scottish Premiership (relegated)||1906–07||—||—|
|Heart of Midlothian||1st, Scottish Championship (promoted)||1890–91||2021–22||1959–60|
|Hibernian||3rd, Scottish Premiership||1895–96||2017–18||1951–52|
|Inverness Caledonian Thistle||5th, Scottish Championship||2004–05||—||—|
|Kilmarnock||11th, Scottish Premiership (relegated)||1899–1900||—||1964–65|
|Livingston||6th, Scottish Premiership||2001–02||2018–19||—|
|Motherwell||8th, Scottish Premiership||1903–04||1985–86||1931–32|
|Partick Thistle||1st, Scottish League One (promoted)||1897–98||—||—|
|Rangers||1st, Scottish Premiership (champions)||1890–91||2016–17||2020–21|
|Ross County||10th, Scottish Premiership||2012–13||2019–20||—|
|St Johnstone||5th, Scottish Premiership||1924–25||2009–10||—|
|St Mirren||7th, Scottish Premiership||1890–91||2018–19||—|
|Aberdeen||Celtic||Dundee||Dundee United||Heart of Midlothian||Hibernian|
|Pittodrie Stadium||Celtic Park||Dens Park||Tannadice Park||Tynecastle Park||Easter Road|
|Capacity: 20,866||Capacity: 60,411||Capacity: 11,775||Capacity: 14,223||Capacity: 20,099||Capacity: 20,421|
|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|
|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 awards
- Biggest home win
- Rangers 8–0 Hamilton Academical, 8 November 2020
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- As of matches played on 12 September 2021
Scotland international Leigh Griffiths is the top goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership era with 90 goals, all for Celtic, followed by Odsonne Edouard and Adam Rooney on 66. Billy McKay, Alfredo Morelos, Kris Boyd, Kris Doolan, Liam Boyce, and Niall McGinn are the only other players to reach 50 goals since the establishment of the Scottish Premiership.
|1||Leigh Griffiths[note 5]||Celtic (2014–2021)
|2||Odsonne Édouard||Celtic (2017–2021)||116||66||0.57|
|=||Adam Rooney[note 5]||Aberdeen (2014–2018)||151||66||0.44|
|4||Billy Mckay[note 5]||Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2013–2015; 2016–2017)
Dundee United (2015–2016)
Ross County (2017–2018; 2019–2021)
|5||Alfredo Morelos||Rangers (2017–)||124||57||0.46|
|6||Kris Boyd[note 5]||Kilmarnock (2013–2014; 2015–2019)||145||55||0.38|
|7||Kris Doolan||Partick Thistle (2013–2018)||176||54||0.31|
|8||Liam Boyce||Ross County (2014–2017)
Heart of Midlothian (2020; 2021–)
|9||Niall McGinn[note 5]||Aberdeen (2013–2017; 2018–)||236||51||0.22|
|10||James Forrest[note 5]||Celtic (2013–)||193||47||0.24|
|=||Ryan Christie[note 5]||Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2013–2015; 2015–2016)
Italics denotes players still playing professional football,
Bold denotes players still playing in the Scottish Premiership.
The SPFL's domestic TV broadcast deal currently ranks 16th in Europe among European Leagues.
- 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.
- Clubs only include those where players scored goals in the Scottish Premiership.
- Player also scored goal(s) in the Scottish Premier League.
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- "BBC". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
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- English, Tom (15 May 2016). "Celtic 7–0 Motherwell". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 16 May 2016.