SPL Season 2012/2013 Season Preview


Sep 17, 2005
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Well you wouldn’t know it but the new SPL season kicks off this Saturday. All summer long, the Rangers saga has dominated both front and back papers and all talk of football has been swept aside. Every armchair fan across the country is now an expert on business and financial law, HMRC regulations and we were awash with words such as CVA entering our everyday vocabulary.

liquidation followed and all assets transferred over to a new company who now run the club. The remaining SPL sides asked the fans and they listened intently as Rangers were denied re-entry into top division with sporting integrity and justice being chosen ahead of financial gain.

Rangers were eventually voted into the fourth tier of Scottish football and will be placed with a 12 month transfer embargo, which starts on September 1st. More sanctions are expected and I for one do not expect the saga to end when their season kicks off on Saturday.

This however has drawn the attention away from what will be a very new and surreal SPL season. Motherwell will take part in the champions’ league for the first time in their history, reward for finishing third in the league with the smallest squad, a squad which has been further depleted this season with 9 departing and only one new arrival. This is the harsh reality in which we all need to accept as clubs cope with the financial implications to their decisions. Celtic’s signing of Fraser Forster from Newcastle for 2m has been the only transfer fee during the entire window thus far and unless Celtic are looking for further recruits, I don’t expect this to change.

We also have the arrival of two new clubs into the SPL for the first time since the 12 team set up was formed in 2000 with the return of Dundee & the arrival of newcomers Ross County.

We will no longer be inundated with old firm derbies; instead we will have the return of the Dundee derby, the Edinburgh derby and for the first time in the top flight, the North East Derby between Ross County and Inverness.

There is also an ever increasing chance that the cup competitions will become a more open and contested affair, with Hearts and Kilmarnock claiming both league and FA cup’s respectfully last season, will we see something similar this year?

Thus Saturday is being dubbed #selloutsaturday with clubs desperate to get fans to rally behind their clubs for the season ahead. I’ve even heard that Kilmarnock players are calling season ticket holders to urge them to renew for the season ahead. Let’s hope that the football will take centre stage and give us all something to cheer about.

Club Review & Predictions

Aberdeen - Craig Brown has been around long enough to know that another lacklustre season won’t satisfy the Dons faithful this season. Aberdeen were the lowest scorers in the league last year and Brown looks to rectify that with the capture of Irish winger Jonny Hayes and Nial McGinn. Losing the talented Frasier Fyfie to Wigan is a blow but they still have experience in Stephen Hughes and Gavin Rae & Isaac Osbourne in the middle.

At the other end, Jamie Langfield is back after his horrific accident last season to competite with Welsh international Jason Brown. Aberdeen also have experienced Russell Anderson, Andrew Considine, Mark Reynolds and Gary Naysmith to keep the opposition out.

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Hayes will give the dons an edge out wide.

Aberdeen couldn’t have a tougher start, Celtic away on the flag raiser at Celtic park but I fully expect them to gain momentum and finish in the top half this season.

Prediction: Top 6 – pushing for Europe

Celtic - The biggest threat to Celtic winning their second title in a row is they. Celtic are 1/50 to retain the title this season and without the challenge of rivals Rangers, only an incredible push from someone like Dundee United, Hearts or Aberdeen as well as a Celtic collapse, will stop the title staying in the east end of Glasgow this season.

Celtic can boast a large squad, which along with retaining key players such as Gary Hooper, Joe Ledley and Ki Sung Yueng as will the now full team member Fraser Forster between the sticks, Celtic’s main aim this season will be Champions League qualification for the first time since 2008.

Prediction: Champions

DundeeThe Dark Blue’s finally making their long awaited return to the top flight, ending their 9 year hiatus at the expense of demoted Rangers.

Dundee finished a staggering 24 points behind league champions Ross County last season and with little time to prepare due to the saga in Glasgow; they face a real struggle to stay in the league. Home form, or lack of was the downfall of Dunfermline last season and Hamilton before them. If Dundee can turn Dens Park into a fortress then they may stand a chance. There is also the added incentive of the Dundee Derby.

Good Neighbours - The Dundee Derby returns.​

Prediction: 12th - Relegation

Dundee United – The Arabs run in the second half of last season saw them rise to fourth in the league, catching the eye with impressive performances such as their stunning victory over Rangers at Ibrox in the cup as well as key individual performances from the likes of 20 goal striker Jon Daly and the emergence of Johnny Russell and Gary MacKay-Steven.

Other key players such as Scott Roberson, Danny Swanson, keeper Dusan Pernis and towering centre half Gary Kenneth are gone and with budget cuts all around, Peter Houston has scoured the lower leagues to sign Brian McLean from Falkirk as well as former Celtic youngsters Mark Miller and Michael Gardyne respectively.

Key youngsters like Ryan Dow and Barry Douglas will be expected to step up to the plate and help secure another top 6 finish.

Prediction: 2nd

Hearts – With Rangers gone and given Hearts have been the most successful Scottish side outside the old firm in the past twenty years, it wouldn’t be wrong to tip them as favourites for second place and the main rivals to Celtic this season. However times and changed and eccentric owner ‘Mad Vlad’ Romanov is no longer pumping in the cash to challenge the big Glasgow sides, instead Hearts are relying on products of the clubs youth system. This is the main reason why Scottish cup winning Portuguese manager Paulo Sergio’s contract was not renewed and the club are now looking to former youth coach John McGynn to nurture the clubs young talent.

First team players Ian Black, Craig Beattie, Stephen Elliot and fan favourite Rudi Skacel have moved on but the Scottish cup winner still have the likes of Driver, Templeton, Webster, Zaliukas as well as the return of out of favour John Sutton to lead the forward line.

Hearts will look to build on last seasons success​

Confidence is high amongst the fans following the 5-1 demolition of rivals Hibernian (had to get it in somewhere) and if McGlynn can forward that momentum into the new season it might well be another successful season for the Jam tarts.

Prediction: 3rd

Hibernain – Well it can’t get any worse, can it? For every Hibs fan, the memory of losing 5-1 to your most bitter rivals in a cup final for a trophy they haven’t won since 1902 (Had to get THAT in at some point too) will not be easy to forget.

Pat Fenlon is going about making amends in the right way with the permanent signing of James McPake who impressed on loan from Coventry last season, as well as the return of Leigh Griffiths until January at the least, from Wolves. Fenlon has also cleared house with the likes of Graham Stack, Ian Murray, Isiah Osbourne and Gary O’Conner moving onto pastures new.

If Fenlon can change the mindset from the last 18 months and improve morale then Hibs should be challenging for a top six finish. A good way to start would be to get a bit of revenge against Hearts at Easter Road on the 11th of August.

Prediction: Top 6

Inverness – Born again Scotsman Terry Butcher will be hoping his Inverness side can avoid a relegation scrape this season and perhaps make a push for the top 6.

His task won’t be any easier with key players Jonny Hayes, Gregory Tade, Greg Tansey and Kenny Gillet leaving the club. Butcher does have Captain Ritchie Foran as well as exciting talents like Nick Ross, Greame and Andrew Shinnie and Aaron Doran as well as a few recruits from the English lower leagues.

Butcher has too much experience and the side have too much experience and quality to be drawn into another relegation battle. I think top 6 will be out of their reach but a comfortable mid table position looks likely.

Prediction: Lower Mid Table

Kilmarnock – Tipped by many to struggle after the Rangers outcome, Kilmarnock’s numbers have dwindled over the years but still boast a hardcore group of fans that are determined to save their club. Last seasons league cup triumph was an unexpected success but any hopes of another success are not to be taken seriously.

Kilmarnock may have lost Dean Shiels and Ben Gordon but Keny Shiels has them playing good football and they still boast they likes of Liam Kelly, Lee Johnson, tricky winger James Dayton and Danny Rachhi as well as solid defensive pair Michael Nelson and Manual Pascali.

Many are tipping Killie for the drop but I think they still have quality in their side. Top 6 seems unlikely but they should be safe.

Prediction: Mid Table

Motherwell – Motherwell? Champions League? Ask a Motherwell fan this time last year if they expected to be taking part in Europe’s most prestigious competition and they would have laughed at you, yet here they are. They may have qualified to due the Rangers situation but if anyone has earned it, it’s them. Smallest playing squad in the league last year, yet they held onto third place all season.

Their small squad has gotten much smaller with Captain Steven Craigan retiring, Tim Clancy moving to Hibs and Steve Jennings leaving for Coventry. Stuart McCall will be hoping star player Jamie Murphy can get amongst the goals and will be hoping the likes of Nicky Law, Chris Humphray and Henrik Ojamma can have another productive season.

If Motherwell can keep everyone fit they will be challenging with Hearts and Dundee United for that second spot but with such a small squad, injuries would cripple their chances. A top 6 finish seems more likely.

Well fans will be excited to play in the Champions League.​

Prediction: Top 6

Ross County – If anyone deserved to be promoted last season it was Derek Adams Ross County. County lost one game all season and that came in early August to Hamilton Accies.

With the new stand complete, a Highland Derby to look forward to and their first season in the top flight, Ross County will be buzzing this season and rightly so. They have experienced SPL players in Ross Tokely, Grant Munro, Iain Vigurs, Keeper Michael Fraser, Richard Brittian as well as new recruits Martin Scott and Gary Glenn.

With that long list of players at their desposal, County should avoid relegation without too many problems.

Prediction: Bottom Half

St Johnstone – Anyone that replaced Derek McInnes at McDiarmid Park was always going to have a tough task at hand but Steve Lomas bettered any expectation by finishing in the top 6 and returning St Johnstone to the European stage.

The loss of Jody Morris and Fran Sandaza was expected and fans will be encouraged by the signings of Gregory Tade and Nigel Hasselbaink, both of whom had very good seasons with Inverness and St Mirren last year.

I don’t think the quality is there for St Johnstone to mount another successful top half challenge but they will be a tough team to beat.

Prediction: Mid Table

St Mirren - The Buddies were praised for their brand of football last season, which at times was very enjoyable to watch. Their free flowing, passing football may have been easy on the eye but they lacked any real conviction in the final third and in the end failed to mount any kind of top half challenge. Top scorer Steven Thompson still managed to score 15 goals last season and if St Mirren are to achieve anything this season, he will need to do more and the same.

Lewis Guy and Sam Parkin have been drafted in to replace the outgoing Nigel Hasselbaink, whilst Dougie Imrie and Paul McGowan will have high expectations this season.

Fans and staff alike will be hoping for a top 6 push but I predict another season of mid table mediocrity.

Preciction: Near the bottom

Overall I want what everyone wants, the SPL to regain some dignity, have someone do something, anything in Europe and have an exciting season that focuses on the football and not the drama.

What are your thoughts and predictions? share them below.

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Sounds very fair, my prediction for the table is

1. Celtic
2. Hearts
3. Motherwell
4.Dundee United
5. ICT
6. Ross County
7. St Johnstone
8. Kilmarnock
9. Aberdeen
10. Hibernian
11. St Mirren
12. Dundee
Dundee Utd, good choice as 2nd (them or hearts for me). Always have quality youngsters, and give us a hard game.
2. Motherwell
3. Dundee Utd
4. Hearts
5. Kilmarnock
6. ICT
7. Hibs
9.St Mirren
10. St Johnstone
11. Dundee
12. Ross County

I reckon Celtic will win it by about 15 points with motherwell keeping a champions league spot next season.
I hope Aberdeen finally get their act together but time will tell. If they dont Brown will be off collecting his pension. We do have some of the best youngsters in Scotland though in Jack and Robertson while Cameron Smith turned down Man Utd apparently.

I hear from a good source that if James McFadden fails to get an offer from Celtic he will join Aberdeen (he was with them as a teenager before he joined Motherwell) on a short term deal. He rejected Aberdeen to join Everton last year
Well, I'm a Raith fan but I will give predictions anyway.

Dundee Utd
St Johnstone

Ross County
St Mirren

Looking forward for the season to start tomorrow :)
BBC Sport - Celtic 1-0 Aberdeen

Not a very good game, Celtic looked poor. Especially Stokes. I'm guessing their minds were on wednesday's big game.

Saying that nearly a Full house at paradise, aberdeen brought plenty of support too.
^ Not even a full house for the championship flag unvealing is a sign on the future at Celtic Park

Aberdeen fan again. Made a very similar start last season we bossed St Johnstone but couldnt score. Looked decent against Celtic but our season wont be judged by that. Hayes and McGinn have to hit the ground running as Vernon is not ideal! Also Brown should be No1. There is no desirable reason to make Clanggers first choice ever!

2. Dundee Utd
3. Motherwell

4. St Johnstone
5. Hearts

6. Hibs
7 Aberdeen


9. Ross County
10.St Mirren
11 Kilmarnock
12. Dundee