With all of the promotions and relegation battles over, let’s take a look at which clubs moved in which direction.
Automatic Relegation: Inverness Caldedonian Thistle F.C.
Promotion/Relegation Playoffs: Hamilton Academical F.C. defeated Dundee United F.C. to stay in the Premiership.
My feelings on Caley being relegated are not as mixed as those of some Ross County supporters. Yes, it would have been nice to see a Highland Derby on a regular basis, but am I wrong in saying that in recent years the derby has lost a bit of its edge? I think a hiatus is probably a good thing in that regard. Also, I think there is a certain element (probably a minority, if I’m honest) among the Caley support who could stand to be knocked down a peg and this might do it.
As to the playoff outcome, I have to say that I’m a bit surprised that Hamilton were able to survive. The race to win the Championship next year should be a good one as failing to get promoted has surely put additional pressure on Dundee United, who, only a few season ago were looking to establish themselves as the “biggest and best” of the non-OF clubs.
Automatic Promotion: Hibernian F.C.
Automatic Relegation: Ayr United F.C.
Promotion/Relegation Playoffs: Brechin City F.C. defeated Raith Rovers F.C. to win promotion to the Championship.
It was only a matter of time before Hibs returned to the top flight and while that’s probably the best thing for Scottish football overall, it’s only going to make things harder for Ross County next season in terms of picking up points, so I’m a bit ambivalent about their promotion to the Premiership.
Ayr United have firmly established their status as one of Scotland’s “yo-yo” clubs and I can’t see that much is going to change about that in the near future. Unrelated note: there’s probably no funding to make it happen, but I’d love to see Ayr get out from under Somerset Park (an absolute pit) and into a tidy new park.
Brechin City are back in the Championship after over a decade outside of it, so that should provide some new variety to the second tier. Rovers, on the other hand, appear to be headed in the wrong direction.
Automatic Promotion: Livingston F.C.
Automatic Relegation: Stenhousemuir F.C.
Promotion/Relegation Playoffs: Forfar F.C. defeated Peterhead F.C. to win promotion to League One.
Not much to say here except that it’s nice to see Livingston moving up in the world again- lots of County connections there in the past!
Automatic Promotion: Arbroath F.C.
Automatic Relegation: Cowdenbeath F.C. fought of Lowland League champions East Kilbride F.C. to remain in league football, and it always has to be said in these circumstances, potentially to remain in existence.
Promotion/Relegation Playoffs: Beat to the post by Arbroath, Forfar Athletic F.C. took it out on Peterhead by pummeling them to the tune of 7-2 on aggregate to win promotion to League One.
Speaking of County connections, it was nice to see Dick Campbell’s Arbroath pip Forfar for the title after trailing them for most of the season. Side note: though he hasn’t been called into action for them, former Scotland international Rab Douglas- age 45!- has been on the books at Arbroath for the last two seasons.
Though even more clubs could have moved up or down had results gone differently, this season is a good example of why “promotion and relegation” are so vital to the success of football overall. There are 42 league clubs in Scotland and this season there were 14 (15 if you want to include Celtic earning the Premiership title) directly involved in either fighting for a championship/promotion or fighting relegation. That’s exactly one third of the league clubs and that does not include all of the clubs fighting to stay out of the relegation battles or trying to push into the promotion/championship battles. Add those clubs in (and those involved in the various cup competitions) and you’re most likely talking about half of the league clubs in Scotland “playing for something” right up through the final match of the season. You really can’t ask for much more than that!
Bring on 2017-2018!