Celtic champions & Hearts relegated after SPFL ends season

Celtic celebrate
Celtic were 13 points clear after 30 matches when the season was halted in March

Celtic have been confirmed as Scottish champions for the ninth season in a row and Hearts have been relegated after the SPFL ended the season.

The decision was taken at a board meeting on Monday after the 12 clubs agreed at the end of last week that completing the campaign was unfeasible.

Average points per game played has been used to determine final placings.

The only change to the table from when football was halted on 13 March is that St Johnstone go sixth, above Hibernian.

Celtic were 13 points ahead of nearest challengers Rangers - having played a game more - when the season was put into abeyance. Like most teams in the division, Neil Lennon's side still had eight games to play.

Hearts were four adrift of Hamilton Academical at the bottom with a possible 24 points available.

However, the Tynecastle club do hold slim hopes of a reprieve after chair Ann Budge was given approval to work on a proposal for temporary league reconstruction, which would involve expanding the top flight.

SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan congratulated Celtic commiserated with Hearts and said the league were left with "no realistic option but to call" the season.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added the "clear and unanimous view" of the clubs was that the games could not be played and that the league can now pay out around £7m of prize money immediately.

"The focus will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible," he said. "Nobody should be under any illusion as to how complicated and difficult a challenge it will be to return Scottish football to normality."

The decision was taken by the SPFL board after a controversial April vote - backed by 81% of clubs - granted them the power to do so should they deem the 49 outstanding games unplayable.

Football at all levels in Scotland is suspended until at least 10 June and Uefa had asked associations to either declare their season or lay out their resumption plans by 25 May.

Doncaster reiterated that the League Cup is scheduled to begin in mid-July, with the new league season due to begin on 1 August.

Table

How did we reach this point?

By way of several weeks of turmoil.

On 8 April - little over three weeks after football was halted - the SPFL asked clubs to vote on whether the lower-league season should be ended. If more than 75% of the 42 clubs backed the plan, the league would have the right to call the Premiership.

The proposal passed, but only after Dundee voted, withdrew their ballot, then voted the other way several days after the requested deadline. That meant Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were declared champions of their respective divisions, with Partick Thistle and Stranraer relegated.

The league commissioned auditors Deloitte to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dundee's belatedly decisive vote, which found no evidence of wrongdoing. But Rangers said the scope was "too narrow".

In the meantime, a taskforce was set up to look at expanding the top flight but that collapsed after a majority of Premiership clubs indicated they would not support league reconstruction this summer.

Then, weeks of claim and counterclaim culminated in last Tuesday's SPFL EGM - forced by Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer. All 42 clubs voted on whether an inquiry was needed into the process, with 13 supporting the proposal, 27 against and two abstentions.

Then, on Friday, the SPFL hosted a meeting of top-flight clubs at which they agreed that it would not be possible to finish the season and that it should be called.

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