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Scottish Premiership: Reasons to be excited

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Celtic may well, and probably should, wrap up the Scottish league title by christmas time, but that doesn't mean the Scottish Premiership has to be a non-event.

There are many other intriguing storylines to unfold this season and here are five things to watch out for when the league starts on Friday.

1. The battle for second

With the fight to be crowned champions almost non-existent, the battle for second is obviously the next most important thing. The chance to enter the Europa League in the 3rd qualifying round, as Motherwell will do this season, is the main prize to play for along with a slightly larger share of the prize money.

Earning the title of 'best of the rest' is the best that the other 11 clubs can realistically hope for and means almost as a much to them as the league does to Celtic. The fight for second is a big deal, therefore, and any number of teams have a chance of coming out on top.

2. A new relegation play-off

This season will be the first in 17 years to see a relegation play-off involving a team from the top flight.

New rules mean that the 11th placed team will enter a play-off with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed sides from the division below. The winner of those play-offs will earn the right to play in the Scottish Premiership the following season along with the champions of the First Division.

Saint Mirren fans, who finished 11th last season, will surely be worried about this new system having finished in that 11th spot in four of the seven seasons since their promotion to the top flight.

3. The new name

You may have noticed the new name as we enter the season, with the SPL now being referred to as the Scottish Premiership. But just what does that mean and what has changed?

Well, following the merger of the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League (the three divisions below), there is a new body named the Scottish Professional Football League, which will oversee all four Scottish divisions.

The top flight will be called the Scottish Premiership from this season onwards, while the division below will be renamed the Scottish Championship. Keeping in line with the structure of English football, the old Division Two and Division Three will now be Scottish League One and Scottish League Two.

While Celtic will be keen to become the first ever Scottish Premiership champions, not much else has changed. The only new rule is the relegation play-off mentioned above.

4. Hearts vs a 15-point deduction

Having entered administration during the summer, Hearts of Midlothian will enter the season in 12th place with -15 points.

Not only will the Tynecastle club start with a numerical disadvantage, they will also go into the season with a much weaker squad than the one which struggled to tenth place last season.

Many key players - such as John Sutton, Marius Zaliukas and Danny Grainger - have had to move on given the financial troubles and they have generally been replaced by players from Hearts' own youth team.

It's hard to imagine a Scottish giant like Hearts suffering relegation after 31 years in the top flight, but with 15 points to make up, a weaker squad and the new relegation play-off even if they make it to 11th place, it is very possible.

For neutrals, though, Hearts' fight against relegation this year promises to be a fascinating one to watch.

5. Newcomers Partick Thistle

The return of Partick Thistle to Scotland's top division after a ten year absence means there will be three Glasgow based teams once again after Rangers' demotion left just Celtic and Saint Mirren representing Scotland's largest city.

With a great and passionate fanbase at their Firhill stadium, Thistle dropped just seven points at home last season and have already recruited some physical and experienced players.

Having that 12th man behind them at home, as well as a strong and talented squad will make Thistle a thorn - yes, pun intended - in the side of many established teams this campaign.

The club will be determined to make their return to the height of the Scottish game a lengthy one and this fresh and historic Glasgow team will certainly stand out in the league - and not just because of their red and yellow stripes.

 

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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