Celtic declared Scottish champions as season canceled

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Celtic have been named the Scottish champions and Hearts have been relegated after the 2019-20 season was canceled.

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The Scottish Premiership had held a vote of its 12 clubs last month and amid plenty of infighting and appeals, led by second-placed Rangers, the decision to curtail the season and decide the table on a points-per-game basis stands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the Premiership clubs begrudgingly agreed there was no way they could play the final games of the season, with the Scottish government keeping strict lockdown orders in place and testing deemed unviable financially. The decision also allows $8.5 million to now be shared out among the 12 Premiership clubs.

Celtic have now won nine-straight Scottish titles (51 all-time) and Neil Lennon’s side have stayed pretty quiet throughout the very public voting process, although Celtic’s manager did previously share his view, along with captain Scott Brown, that the Hoops should be declared champs.

Was a Celtic title already a forgone conclusion? They were 13 points clear of Rangers (who had a game in hand) with eight games to go and unless they suffered an almighty collapse, they would have won the title. As for Hearts, they are said to be considering legal action after what they called an ‘unjust’ decision. Scotland’s other three professional leagues agreed to end last month.

After confirming the decision to cancel the season, SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan explained what it just wasn’t possible to play out the games.

“Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to officially congratulate Celtic on their achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, and also to sincerely commiserate with Hearts on their relegation,” MacLennan said. “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.”

Celtic’s title win also means they will enter the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League at the first qualifying round.

Rangers finished in second place and will enter the Europa League in the second qualifying round, while Motherwell finished third and will enter in the first qualifying round and so too will fourth-place Aberdeen.