Scottish Premiership

Ronny DeilaRonny Deila's Celtic team are still in the Champions League after Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player. Photograph: Graham Stuart/Action Images

Excitement over the opportunity offered to others on account of Rangers’ continued absence from Scotland’s top flight has once again been offset by harsh reality.

The Scottish league scene gets under way over the weekend with European competition having delivered its latest stark reminder of where the country is as a footballing nation. It is to Aberdeen’s credit that they defeated FC Groningen and at least made a game of it in defeat to Real Sociedad.

Otherwise, the week supplied a tale of woe; issues of ineligible players aside Celtic were a clear second best again to Legia Warsaw, and St Johnstone were bundled out of the Europa League at the qualifying stage by the Slovakian minnows Spartak Trnava. Starjan, of Iceland, had already seen off Motherwell. It was a familiar story but still a depressing one.

The overly simplistic – and incorrect – explanation for this is that the lack of Rangers in the Premiership has harmed the rest. Scottish football was deep in decline long before Rangers’ demise; two clubs dominating the Premiership scene is of no more benefit to others than if there is one, as is currently the case with Celtic.

In highlighting the routinely curious business that is the Scottish Professional Football League, the champions will not be seen in this opening weekend. Nor, on account of the ludicrous knock-on effect of the Commonwealth Games, will their planned opponents Partick Thistle.

Another key absentee from the SPFL is a title sponsor, with those in charge of the country’s national sport displaying their ineptitude for a second season in a row by failing to deliver such much-needed revenue before a ball is kicked. It is a sad indictment of Scotland’s leading clubs, never mind the game’s administrators, that this situation remains unresolved.


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