Back To The Future Day: Scottish football 30 years on

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport
Back to the Future movie still

What would Back To The Future writer Bob Gale have predicted for Scottish football had he made a movie in the 1980s about how the game might look in 2015?

In Back To The Future II, Michael J Jox's character, Marty McFly, and Dr Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travel to 21 October 2015 to prevent McFly's future son from being imprisoned.

If there were such a thing as a time machine, and had the madcap duo been football fans, or we should say soccer fans, them being American and all, they would have found a game in Scotland where time has stood still, or even gone backwards, for all except champions Celtic in terms of transfer fees.

That October, Hearts had started a famous run to the top of the table only to throw away the Scottish title by losing 2-0 to Dundee on the final day of the season and being pipped on goal difference by a Celtic side who thrashed St Mirren 5-0 in Paisley.

Sir Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen slipped to fourth in the table, but a Scottish Cup and League Cup double secured his switch to Manchester United and an even more famous future.

Graeme Souness' Rangers revolution, which was to fuel the Scottish transfer market and the Ibrox club's long-term financial downfall, was yet a year away.

Walter Kidd (left) and Willie Miller
Hearts' Walter Kidd (left) and Aberdeen's Willie Miller shake hands before the 1986 Scottish Cup final

Season 1985-86's big transfers

Chelsea paid £380,000 to Hibernian for striker Gordon Durie, who would go on to win 43 Scotland caps. That's equivalent to a £1m transfer at today's prices.

West Ham United secured striker Frank McAvennie for £340,000 from St Mirren.

Aberdeen paid Belgian club Lokeren £300,000 for Scotland midfielder Jim Bett.

Leicester City paid Motherwell £250,000 for midfield duo Gary McAllister, who would eventually play for Scotland 57 times, and Ally Mauchlen.

Nottingham Forest paid Hibernian £175,000 for midfielder Brian Rice.

St Mirren secured Celtic striker Frank McGarvey for £80,000.

Hearts shelled out £60,000 for Celtic winger John Colquhoun.

Dundee United paid Rangers £70,000 for midfielder Ian Redford.

Hibernian paid Sunderland £60,000 for defender Gordon Chisholm.

Ian Redford
Ian Redford celebrates scoring for Dundee United against Neuchatel in the 1985/86 Uefa Cup

Season 2015-16's transfers

Celtic this summer signed striker Nadir Ciftci from Scottish Premiership rivals Dundee United for £1.5m, while paying a similar fee to Manchester City for defender Dedryck Boyata.

There was also money paid for Jozo Simunovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Saidy Janko (Manchester United), Scott Allan (Hibernian), Logan Bailly (Leuven) and Ryan Christie (Inverness Caledonian Thistle).

Those fees were somewhat balanced out by the £11.5m paid by Southampton for Virgil van Dijk and £2m by Sunderland for fellow defender Adam Matthews.

Motherwell managed to rake in about £400,000 from Leeds United for young striker Lee Erwin.

Meanwhile, other clubs have paid "undisclosed" or "compensation" fees unlikely to have been anywhere close to that amount.

Championship club Queen of the South were the biggest beneficiaries this summer, with Kevin Holt heading to Dundee, fellow defender Mark Durnan to Dundee United, midfielder Ian McShane to Ross County, who also bought the versatile Jackson Irvine from Celtic, and Gavin Reilly to Hearts.

League reconstruction again!

While time travelling football fans might be left thinking there had been no price inflation in those 29 years, and would wonder what happened to Scotland's ability to export top, home-grown talent, they would have a feeling of familiarity about the debate over the league structure.

They would have missed the split from the Scottish Football League that led to the creation of the Scottish Premier League and then their amalgamation into the Scottish Professional Football League.

In 1986, the recently-created Scottish Premier Division was under the control of the SFL, but moves during that season would lead to the top-flight being expanded from 10 to 12 clubs.

Motherwell v St Mirren
John Gahagan drills the ball through the St Mirren defence to score for Motherwell

Motherwell, who had finished second bottom, were saved from relegation as a result, just as they were last season through the play-offs.

If history repeats

This weekend, both Celtic and Rangers play the same opposition as they did on 26 October 1985.

Celtic lost 3-0 at home to Dundee United, while St Mirren defeated Rangers 2-1.

You will get long odds from the bookmakers for a repeat of that particular scenario.