Scottish Premiership: New name, new season, familiar finish
Last updated on .From the section Scottish Premiership
is a new name for an old-established 12-team league and football fans, forced to put up with surface-scratching rather than a radical overhaul, can expect this season to pan out in familiar fashion.
And I'm not just stating the obvious when I predict that Celtic will be the first winners of the rebranded top division under the new
They won't experience anything approaching a title challenge for at least another two years - when would expect to end their lower leagues (not to mention Championship) adventure.
But I also reckon that the order of the supporting cast, lined up behind the stick-on champions, will bear a striking resemblance to the way it was when the last campaign ended in May.
It clearly won't be identical to the league formerly known as the Scottish Premier League, with having replaced Dundee, but it could be spookily similar.
The good news for Thistle is bad news for Hearts. Survival is the target for the and I don't just mean staying in the Premiership.
Even if they avoid liquidation, on the football front, their inexperienced squad will struggle to recover from a 15-point handicap imposed for going into administration.
Edinburgh rivals Hibernian might struggle to recover from the . That European embarrassment, which saw Hibs lose 9-0 on aggregate, and the departure of last year's top scorer, Leigh Griffiths, points to another bottom-half finish for Pat Fenlon's side.
I expect the biggest movers in the top 12 to be Aberdeen. A midfield of Jonny Hayes, Willo Flood, Barry Robson and should get them up the table. The worry would be: who'll give goals back-up to Niall McGinn?
The Dons are contenders for the runners-up spot, but I make Motherwell favourites to be best of the rest. Fir Park is minus some big players from last season, but Scotland internationals and James McFadden are two top-quality signings.
Watching St Johnstone , confirmed in my mind that the Perth team will again be at the top end of the table. The addition of midfielder David Wotherspoon from Hibs looks a big plus.
I don't see the other Saints, the Paisley version, matching that sort of league form even though St Mirren have done well to hold on to playmaker Paul McGowan.
Kilmarnock are unlikely to be in those upper positions either. If can get anywhere near his old strike rate, I might have to revise that forecast.
David Goodwillie is another striker trying to bring back his glory days. Dundee United, who've lost some top players, will hope Goodwillie's temporary Tannadice return on loan from Blackburn Rovers has the desired effect.
Highland pair Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County were a revelation last season by both securing a place in the top six by the time the league split in two for the final round of fixtures in April.
It's going to be difficult to replicate their achievements of last season, but I don't envisage either of them being in the drop zone.
At the other end of the new Premiership, Celtic's winning points margin (16 last season) will be decided by the duration of their European campaign and how much they switch off at the weekends.
They're clearly in a league of their own, whatever you want to call it. The competition lies with the other 11 and I think we can expect another almighty scrap for places.
Err, yes you are.
Employing Rangers propaganda people like Young & Dodds is simply unjustifiable but typical BBC, who don't recognise Rangers are a 3rd Division club.
The BBC's coverage of Scottish football is a disgrace & they should be held to task.
So what's your definition of sectarianism then? Or is it a 'cultural heritage'?
Can't agree with McLean tipping Dons as runners-up.
Much as it would be good to see, they'll be lucky to make the top 6.
Expect Motherwell, St J, ICT, D Utd, Celtic and Ross Cty to be the top 6 this year - perhaps in a different order though.
Celtic FC do not promote sectarianism - seems strange that a certain team is no longer in the top flight and sectarianism is not on the agenda.
Why does everyone still see them as a joint entity - pathetic.
Celtic have got where they are out of hard work and honesty - get over it!!
Sadly, Scotland, and Glasgow in particular is obsessed with either of the ugly sisters like a disease, to the extent that it permeates through the whole of west of Scotland. We, in 'normal-land' look on in horror, as our beautiful game is used as a vehicle for hate and abuse.
This has been the reason for most normal people distancing themselves from Scottish football.
Hopefully they go bust again, along with their other uber- 'loyal' brethren who infect various other parts of Scottish footballing culture....
Visiting Glasgow recently I saw a man being kicked and punch until he was unconscious for the crime of wearing a green top. Its time to end this obsession with the old firm and their fans poisonous obsession with the politics of Northern Ireland. It time Scotland rid themselves of the OF.
A one or two horse race will not prosper.