Celtic emerge champions, Hearts relegated as Scottish season ends

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Celtic have been declared 2019/2020 Scottish champions for a record-equalling ninth successive season by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), while Hearts were relegated.

This ending came after the clubs voted on Monday to end the Scottish Premiership season early because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

`The SPFL has today announced that, following consultation with all 12 top-flight clubs, the Board of the SPFL has determined that the 2019/20 Ladbrokes Premiership has been concluded with immediate effect,” the SPFL said in a statement.

“The decision means that Celtic are crowned 2019/20 champions and Hearts have been relegated to the Championship.

When the season was stopped in March because of the pandemic, Celtic were 13 points clear of Old Firm rivals Rangers, who had a game in hand.

Also, Hearts were four points adrift at the bottom of the standings.

Places were decided on a points-per-game average.

Hearts said they were still considering legal action, saying they had been “unfairly penalised” because of the pandemic.

In a statement, the Edinburgh club said they would be submitting a member’s resolution offering a “pragmatic solution” to the issues the game is facing.

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Hearts believe there is an appetite for a restructuring of the Scottish leagues.

“It is our belief that this resolution, if supported, will provide an opportunity to avoid disproportionately disadvantaging —- financially and otherwise —- any club,” the club said.

“This is possibly the final chance for our game to stand together, protect each other and not only survive but flourish in the aftermath of this terrible pandemic.

“As previously intimated, the club has been taking legal advice throughout this process and is continuing to do so.

“We hope that the resolution being prepared will avoid the need to go down this route. Legal action will be both time consuming and expensive.

“However, the cost to the club of relegation will outweigh these considerations.’’

Last week Scottish clubs failed to support a request by Rangers for an independent investigation into SPFL’s handling of the season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The resolution, backed by Hearts and Stranraer.

It was put forward after serious misgivings about how a previous vote on the SPFL’s plan to end the lower leagues early, and possibly the Premiership too, was carried out.

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The SPFL executive committee last week met all 12 Premiership clubs about declaring the season over.

Media reports had it that relegated Hearts had made a final push for a revamp of the league structure.

Scotland’s three lowest tiers were ended immediately in April, with positions also decided on a points-per-game average, although the door was left open for a resumption of the Premiership.

That has now been ruled out.

Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers were declared winners of the Championship, League One and League Two respectively.

The SPFL released end-of-season payments of over 1.8 million pounds (2.18 million dollars) to clubs to ease their financial burden.

“We will all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters,” SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan said.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on sports competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time.”

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell dedicated the club’s title, their 51st compared to Rangers’ 54, to the fans.

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“I am so proud of our team and proud of you for all you have given us,” he said on Celtic’s website.

“While we rightly celebrate this fantastic, deserved achievement, we must take time to consider the wider circumstances we have all been experiencing.”

Celtic also won nine league titles in a row from 1965 to 1974, a feat matched by Rangers from 1989 to 1997.

Credit: Reuters/NAN

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