The Scottish Premiership season starts back on Saturday 3 August with five of the six fixtures taking place that day. Kilmarnock host Rangers in the spare from 1.30pm on Sunday afternoon, a match armchair fans can follow live on TV.
Celtic have completely dominated the Scottish top-flight, firstly in the absence of Rangers who were dumped into the bottom rung of the game, then again when their Old Firm rivals returned. The Hoops have claimed eight league championships in-a-row and are odds-on favourites with STS to stretch that to nine on the bounce.
As well as league success, Celtic have also cleaned up in cup competitions, winning a treble in each of the last three campaigns, known to fans of the Glasgow club as the historic treble-treble. Will that run continue onto the 2019/20 campaign or can Rangers finally claw their way back into contention and pull off a world record 55th league championship? Perhaps the winner will come from left field, finally breaking the age-old Glasgow dominance. Will Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock or Motherwell do a Leicester and shock world football?
These are all questions that will be answered over the course of the coming season but, at present, it’s open to speculation and it really is anyone’s guess who the winners and losers will be in the months to come. There’s no club football to speak of during summer but bettors aren’t short of markets to wager their cash on thanks to STS. Have your say on how this campaign will go, taking advantage of the antepost betting on the top European leagues, including the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and Scottish Premiership.
Celtic enter as defending champions, having finished nine points ahead of Rangers, grabbing the nation’s only Champions League qualification place in the process. The Hoops ended with season stats of 27 wins and six draws against five defeats, with two of those negatives coming against Rangers at Ibrox. That’s something younger Celtic fans aren’t too used to.
They may have suffered the sting of two Old Firm defeats but, over the course of the season, they played like champions, grinding out wins when a draw looked likely. Rangers struggled to break teams down and were stuck with a single point to show for their efforts, despite creating enough chances to win the game. Passing and possession stats don’t win titles.
As well as holding off interest from the blue half of the city, Celtic also won the Scottish League Cup thanks to a convincing win over Aberdeen and the Scottish Cup, beating Hearts in 90 minutes despite falling behind in that contest. They also went through two managers, losing fans’ favourite Brendan Rodgers to the Premier League, the Northern Irishman taking over at Leicester. He was replaced at Parkhead by former player and manager Neil Lennon. The latter initially agreed to take charge until the end of the season but did enough during his trial to complete the treble and win the job again on a permanent basis, despite the likes of Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho being liked with a big money move to Celtic Park.
Splashing the cash
The champions haven’t been as active in the transfer window as fans would’ve liked so far this summer, but they did splash the cash to bring in Frenchman Christopher Jullien for a whopping £7m from Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse. Lennon told members of the press his new recruit has everything he is looking for and its expected he’ll walk into a Celtic defence that have looked fragile in Europe.
Will Jullien be part of another title winning team? Odds-makers at STS certainly believe so and punters looking to support nine-in-a-row will find 33/100 attached to The Bhoys chances. That’s a short price to be waiting for over a full season but Celtic’s form in recent years makes it incredibly difficult to argue against. They head the betting market for good reason, and it will take a huge effort to shift them.
Rangers improving under Gerrard
There can be no question Steven Gerrard made an instant impact at Rangers as the former Liverpool and England captain made sweeping changes. Looking to improve just about every aspect of the club, he altered the way they train, the diet, the dugout and made a long list of signings, cutting out the deadwood and replacing it with fresh ambition.
It had the desired effect as The Gers blazed their way to the group stages of the Europa League following a painfully long period sat watching UEFA competitions from the sidelines. They handled themselves with credit, despite being dropped into a difficult pool.
Gerrard has already made moves to build on that strong start by increasing the talent at Ibrox this summer. He has made more signings and recent reports suggest the Glasgow gaffer could be ready to add up to three more new faces, giving him strength in depth. They will need a big squad and a bit of luck to steer clear of injury if they are to apply any sort of pressure to Celtic this season.
Blues going for 55
This has all the ingredients of a thrilling campaign and we’re expecting one of the most competitive in recent years. There’s real confidence in this Rangers team, both in the dressing room and in the stands, and there’s no reason they can’t go and win a 55th title. It won’t be easy, given the fact Celtic have become used to winning things, but it can be done. Those who believe can back Rangers for glory at a value 12/5.
The relegation betting is headed by Ross County who as are big as 7/4 to finish bottom this season and that will appeal to the value hunters out there as it looks on the generous side. The same list shows St Mirren – who narrowly avoided the drop last season by winning a play-off – at 9/4 and the 3/1 attached to Hamilton.