The real drama is below the Scottish Premier League this season

by Paul Corcoran

rangersMany will tout Glasgow Celtic as probable winners of this season’s Scottish Premier League campaign. If this season goes as planned for Celtic it will be four league titles in a row for the club.

However, the real drama in Scottish football will potentially take place in the Scotland’s second tier, the Championship. What is usually a fairly lacklustre season long affair has the makings of one of the more exciting title races across the U.K this season.

Rangers have achieved two successive promotions since dissolving and reforming in League Two of the Scottish system. Since starting off on the bottom rung of Scottish football, alongside teams such as Queen’s Park and Peterhead, Rangers have only lost three league games. They were run away champions of League One finishing almost forty points ahead of their closest rivals in the division, Dunfermline Athletic. Love them or hate them, following Rangers’ battle to return to past glories has been an interesting undercurrent for the previous two seasons in Scotland.

Now, just one promotion away from top flight football, can Rangers make it back there in just three seasons? Or will a dream promotion be scuppered by other ambitious sides in the division?

Last season was a dismal time to be a football fan in Edinburgh. After going into administration, Hearts were deducted fifteen points prior to the Premier League season. This, coupled with poor performances during the season, led to a bottom of the table finish for the Edinburgh club and relegation to the Championship. Cross town rivals Hibernian only managed twelve points more than Hearts which saw them enter the relegation/promotion playoff against Championship runners-up Hamilton Academical. The playoff resulted in The Accies gaining a top division berth, while Hibs were doomed to Championship football for the 2014/15 season. Next season sees the first time neither Edinburgh club will play in the Premier League since its first season in 1890.

After being relegated in 2010, Falkirk are still chasing the elusive promotion to return them to the top division in Scotland. Frustratingly they have managed a third place finish four seasons in a row, and only missed out on top spot in the division by three points last season! This is another team that will surely be pushing for promotion again this season. While a top four finish and a playoff berth is certainly within their reach, one will have to consider another disappointment for Falkirk this season in a division crowded with challengers for the title.

Never mind two of these four teams gaining promotion, there is a possibility of only one team achieving this feat. The winner of the playoffs in the Championship has to defeat the team second from bottom in the Premier League to join the winners of the division in top flight football the following season. Rangers’ exceptionally strong fan base would no doubt be thrilled at returning to the Premier League, however, I think it would be a shame if neither Hibs or Hearts managed promotion this season. Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s largest cities, second only to Glasgow, it is bad enough that neither of the city’s clubs will enjoy top flight football this season, of course there is the possibility that neither will make it back to the Premier League for next season. Rangers, Hibs, Hearts and Falkirk all have something to prove this season and will be looking to finally put a number of frustrating years behind them.

The Scottish Championship is set up to be a firecracker this season and, despite the potential for some pretty low quality football at times, every fan should keep an eye on the division.

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