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INT SPL - Scottish Premier League

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Scottish Premier League History

The Scottish Premier League (SPL, currently known as the Clydesdale Bank Premier League for sponsorship reasons) is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top level of the Scottish football league system, above the Scottish Football League.

Per capita, more people in Scotland watch their domestic top level league than any other nation in Europe. As of March 2010[update] the Scottish Premier League is ranked 16th in the UEFA rankings of European leagues, which are based on the performances of member clubs in European competitions. A total of 18 clubs have competed in the SPL since its inauguration in 1998–99, but only two have won the title, the Old Firm of Celtic and Rangers (six each).

Predecessors


Previously, the Scottish Football League had a two divisional structure (Divisions One and Two) between which clubs were promoted and relegated at the end of each season. However, by the mid 1970s, this organisation was perceived to be stagnant, and it was decided to split into a three divisional structure: Premier Division (formerly Division One), First Division (formerly Division Two) and a newly added Second Division. This system came into force for the 1975–76 season. This setup continued until the 1994–95 season, when a four divisional structure was introduced, along with a new Third Division, with all divisions comprising ten clubs.

Formation of the SPL

On 8 September 1997, the football clubs in the Premier Division decided to split from the Scottish Football League and form the Scottish Premier League, following an earlier example in England, which came into force during the 1992–93 season. This decision was fuelled by a desire by the top clubs in Scotland to retain more of the revenue generated by the game. Originally, league sponsorship money was divided proportionally between clubs in all four divisions; after the SPL was formed, this was no longer the case. Originally the SPL contained 10 clubs, but it subsequently enlarged to 12 for the 2000–01 season onwards. The increase from 10 clubs to 12 was part of the deal offered to obtain approval from SFL member clubs. Since then, the SPL has operated a "split league format" to prevent the need for a 44-game schedule, which was once used in the Scottish Premier Division, but is now considered to be too high a number of games in a league season.
Under this system, after 33 games (i.e., when every club has played every other club three times, either twice away and once at home or vice-versa) the division is split into two halves. The clubs play a further five matches against the teams in their half of the division, taking their total to 38 games. This can (and often does) result in the team placed seventh having a higher points total than the team placed sixth, because their final five games are considerably easier. For example, in the 2005–06 season, the seventh placed club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, gained more points than the fourth placed club, Hibernian.

Promotion and relegation

Providing they meet certain criteria regarding their stadium, the top club from the Scottish First Division is promoted to the SPL, with the 12th-placed SPL club relegated. These promotion criteria have previously caused controversy. In 2003, the chairmen of the member clubs voted against Falkirk's proposed ground share with Airdrie United and stopped the club from having the 10,000 capacity stadium it required, thus saving Motherwell from relegation.

The same situation nearly materialised in 2004. After several votes and discussion, including threats of court cases from Partick Thistle, the team threatened with relegation, Inverness Caledonian Thistle were promoted on the basis that they would groundshare with Aberdeen at Pittodrie. In 2005, the stadium size criterion for entry to the SPL was reduced to 6,000, thereby allowing Inverness Caledonian Thistle to return to their home stadium during the 2005–06 season.

Sponsorship

The Bank of Scotland, who had sponsored the league since March 1999 (The League was unsponsored for most of the inaugural season), did not renew their sponsorship at the end of the 2006–07 season. Talks began with Clydesdale Bank,and a deal was confirmed shortly afterwards. A four-year deal for £8m came into effect from July 2007[7] and in 2010 this was extended until 2013.
 
SPL members for 2010–11

The following twelve clubs will compete in the Scottish Premier League during the 2010–11 season:

Aberdeen
Celtic
Dundee United
Hamilton Academical
Heart Of Midlothian
Hibernian
Inverness CT
Kilmarnock
Motherwell
Rangers
St. Johnstone
St. Mirren

Old Firm dominance

One of the main criticisms of the SPL is the dominance of the two Old Firm clubs, Celtic and Rangers. No team outside the Old Firm has won the SPL since it was formed in 1998 and there has only been one season (2005–06) where both clubs failed to occupy first and second positions, with Hearts finishing second behind Celtic. Whilst this is similar to other European leagues, this problem dates back to the beginning of Scottish league football, with a few exceptional periods. The average home attendances of boths clubs are significantly higher than the other 10 clubs, resulting in the Old Firm having far greater revenues and therefore more money to spend on players. Both clubs also receive significant revenue from their regular participations in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

However, despite having more resources than other Scottish clubs, the Old Firm still experience difficulty in competing with big clubs from other leagues in terms of transfer fees and player wages due to the SPL's relatively low television revenue. A recurring theme in recent years has been the prospect of the two clubs leaving the Scottish football set-up to join either the English set-up, or an Atlantic League with clubs from countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal. While some feel that the departure of the Old Firm from the Scottish football setup would be detrimental to Scottish football as a whole, others, such as Craig Levein, believe it would benefit Scottish football due to increased competition among the remaining clubs for the SPL title. World football's governing body FIFA, however, has ruled out the prospect of any move to the English set-up.

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Both sets of fans at an Old Firm match at Celtic Park.
 
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Samaras happy at Celtic : Updated 3th October 2010

Celtic striker Georgios Samaras insists he has no intention of leaving the club despite strong rumours of an exit during the summer.

Samaras, 25, has just one year remaining on his contract and was linked with clubs including Middlesbrough, Hercules and Palermo after his efforts for Greece at the World Cup, but he says he remains fully committed to Celtic.

"At no stage did I think I was leaving," Samaras told the Sunday Mail. "I wanted to stay with this club and I was 100% committed to that decision.

"I went to the World Cup completely focused on the national team and when I came back I had the same attitude for what I had to do here.

"I know there were a lot of rumours in the summer and some offers came in but my door was always closed. I know this team well and the club knows me. It was an easy decision.

"When the World Cup was finished, I wanted to be back for pre-season. I know that I can give a lot to this side. At Celtic you have to win every game. You are aiming to win trophies and you are normally playing European football.

"I don't know of any reason to leave because this club has everything for me. My door was never open to the other outfits. If it was teams from Italy, Spain, Holland, Russia, Turkey or Greece, I wasn't interested.

"I would like to be part of a full championship season when we win the title. At the moment, we're doing well in the league and are in the next round of the Co-op Cup. It'd be nice to win something."

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Georgios Samaras would snub a move to Hercules or Palermo.
 
Hughes leaves Hibs after poor start to season

Updated : 4th October 2010.

Hibernian have announced that manager John Hughes has left the club by mutual consent, just over a year since he joined the Edinburgh side from Falkirk.

Hughes, 46, led Hibs to a fourth-place finish in the SPL last season, though he failed to guide the club through Europa League qualifying, where they fell at the first hurdle to Slovenian side NK Maribor. And after beating Motherwell on the opening day of the season, Hibs have failed to win a league match, also exiting the CIS Insurance Cup at the hands of Kilmarnock.

A statement on Hibernian's official website said: "The board would like to record its sincere thanks for the hard work and commitment shown by John during his tenure, and for leading the club into Europe." With Hibs sitting third from bottom in the SPL table, chairman Rod Petrie revealed that both parties felt a change was necessary. "John has been a hard-working and dedicated manager of Hibernian," Petrie said. "As a former captain, and as a fan, he recognises that a fresh face and a new approach is the best option for the club at this time. We thank him for all of his hard work, and for his honesty and passion for the club." Hughes, who played for Hibs from 1996-2000, certainly appeared to wish his side no ill-feeling following his departure. "I have relished every minute of my time at Hibernian, the club I have always supported and which will always have a special place in my heart," Hughes said. "I am proud of what we achieved last season, and I wish the board, players and supporters every success."

Former Hibs defender Craig Paterson expressed his surprise that Hughes' exit came so early in the campaign but concedes his successor will now have plenty of time to transform the fortunes of the team, who have won just one competitive match from 10 so far. He told BBC Scotland: "I thought the manager might have been given a little more time, we are only seven games into the (league) season. But it hasn't been a good start and I suppose the club has to look at the bigger picture.

"It looks like the board has decided it's time for a change, to bring a new manager in early in the season and give him a chance and plenty of games to get things moving forward. "It certainly allows the new manager to get his feet under the desk with a big chunk of the season to go and a chance to make his mark. The fans have been disappointed with the results and I think they felt it was time for a change. "The fans expect Hibs to be in the thick of the battle for the European places and I think they realised, the way things were going, that was going to be difficult. It was maybe time for a change and to see if someone can come in and get them back in the top six and looking to challenge for third place.''

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Hibs have won just one match this season, on the opening day.
 
Rangers' Jelavic set for surgery after injury

Updated : 5th October 2010

New Rangers signing Nikica Jelavic is set to miss "a number of matches" for his club after being told he requires surgery on an ankle injury.

Jelavic was injured in the 2-1 weekend win at Hearts, sustaining ankle ligament damage, and will go under the knife in a bid to return before the turn of the year. The £4 million summer signing from Rapid Vienna said he was worried over the injury and admitted he thought it was more serious when it first happened. "It hurts," Jelavic told the Daily Record. "I don't know the extent of the damage yet but it is possible I have overstretched a ligament. I was scared I had seriously damaged my knee after the challenge. At the moment I can't feel my leg from the ankle to the knee."

Rangers confirmed Jelavic's injury in a statement on Monday night. It read: "Following a tackle in Saturday's game against Hearts at Tynecastle, Nikica Jelavic suffered ankle ligament damage that requires surgery. The striker will now miss a number of matches for the club." He will already miss the Old Firm derby on October 24, but some reports have suggested that he could even miss the New Year match with Celtic as well.

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Nikica Jelavic trudges off in agony.
 
Celtic play down extent of Kayal hernia injury

Updated : 5th October 2010

Celtic have played down reports that midfielder Beram Kayal will be out of action for three months after the recurrence of a hernia problem, declaring them "inaccurate" and insisting that the extent of his injury is not yet known. It was claimed that the player, who has featured five times since arriving from Maccabi Haifa at the end of July for £1.2 million, could struggle to be back until early in the New Year.

A statement on the club's website updated Kayal's injury situation and that of several other players.

"Celtic would like to clarify the current injury situation at the club to supporters following some inaccurate reporting in recent days. As yet, it's inaccurate to report that Beram Kayal will be out of action for three months. "The player only underwent investigations on Friday when he had some scans and tomorrow he will see a specialist in Yorkshire. Once the medical team have more information they will be able to get a better guideline until how long he will be out for and decide the best course of treatment.

"Meanwhile, contrary to reports, Niall McGinn has been training and is fighting for a place in the team. He is currently away on international duty. Paddy McCourt will return to training after the weekend, along with Thomas Rogne, who had suffered a very slight calf strain. Emilio Izaguirre is also expected to join them. "James Forrest is making good progress from his ankle injury and the club are hopeful that he will train at some point in the following week. The medical team are also hopeful that Charlie Mulgrew will return to training next week following a hamstring strain.''

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Beram Kayal joined Celtic from Maccabi Haifa in July.
 
Jelavic hits back at Black

Updated : 6th October 2010

Nikica Jelavic claims Hearts midfielder Ian Black should have been given a red card for the challenge which could rule him out of action for several months. Rangers striker Jelavic - who cost £4 million in the summer - is furious after suffering ankle ligament damage during Saturday's 2-1 win at Tynecastle.

The club have confirmed the Croatia international will miss a number of matches but reports suggest he could be out for up to four month. Jelavic was reported as saying: "I'm mad at him - obviously I'm going to be angry. He had no chance to get to the ball. He could have grabbed my shirt if he wanted to stop me but he was going to get me anyway.

"He should have been given a red card, not yellow. Can you imagine how he can get a yellow when I am out of the game for at least three months? But I will not take revenge. I am not that kind of player." He added: "This won't break me - I will come back even stronger."

Meanwhile, Rangers hope to finalise the signing of Salim Kerkar, with the player set to return to France in a bid to help complete the deal. The 23-year-old is a free agent after being released by Guegnon at the end of last season and he has been training with the Scottish champions since August.

However, a few loose ends have still to be tied up with the French club before he can seal his move to Glasgow. Assistant manager Ally McCoist told the club's website: "Salim is going over to see his old club to try to move things on because we have so far been unable to get things finalised.

"We have been seeking some confirmation from them on a couple of issues but have not had the information we need. "So he will head back there to try to get things moving and then come back and join the training again and hopefully we can get a deal done.
"He is a lad who is shaping up well. He is a nice lad but more importantly he has a good left foot and I think our fans will enjoy seeing him."
 
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