Why Celtic won’t have it all their own way this season…

Celtic have won the Scottish Premier League title for the last five seasons in a row.

Aberdeen have started to close in on the Glasgow club, but without their perennial arch rivals Rangers, the competition to match Celtic and to make a league of it just hasn’t been there.

Last season, runners-up Aberdeen were still fifteen points and 48 goals behind Celtic on the last day, so as the years go on it becomes a mere one horse race.

However, now that Rangers have hauled themselves back up through the lower divisions and returned to the elite of Scottish football, The Gers and Aberdeen may be able to slow down the Celtic success.

Rangers versus Celtic is the highly prized asset of the Scottish Football Association and their first encounter for years happened in last season’s Scottish F A Cup semi-final. Rangers ran out winners, albeit on penalties, but a strong blue message was there for the green half of Glasgow to take notice of.

Rangers’ four year absence is now over and it is almost a sign of life getting back to normal in Scotland. Though they are back in the big time, the club are still not as financially sound as they would like, but they will start to enjoy the bigger revenue streams and if they can get back into Europe, then they are heading in the right direction.

Chairmen and chief executives will already be counting the extra cash generated both directly and indirectly. A large travelling support will be a welcome financial addition to a league where clubs like Hamilton bring almost nothing to the table, while the prospect of TV companies paying more for rights, simply to get coverage of those Old Firm blockbusters, will please many.

Many Celtic fans, whatever they might say in public, are also happy to have their old sparring partners back. But supporters of Aberdeen and have rather enjoyed life sans Rangers. They fear a return to the old days of a big-spending ‘big two’ engaged in a transfer market arms race, finishing 30 points clear of the pack.

Enter Aberdeen, who are really only the other clear candidate to impinge on Celtic’s champions aspirations. At one point last season the gap was close, but The Dons fell away and the same old, same old re-occurred.

But Derek McInnes has revitalised the Dons and they are a team not to be ignored.

The Aberdeen manager is in the perfect zone. In that old-fashioned way, he is in total control of his club, in a way that Sir Alex Ferguson, his most illustrious predecessor at Pittodrie, would admire.

On a number of occasions, Pittodrie has seen sell-out games with 20,000 fans filling the old stadium and yet when it comes to budgets, McInnes has roughly a fifth of what Celtic have to spend and there the disparity is open for all to see.

McInnes is a very good football manager and tactically as proficient as many further south, but when it’s all going wrong for the Hoops half way through the season, Celtic can splash the cash and bring in reinforcements, whereas fans of Aberdeen can only watch another league title heading to Glasgow.

So this coming season, Celtic will not have it all their own way. Rangers and Aberdeen will fight for that top spot, while the likes of Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Hamilton will see each game with Celtic as a cup final and raise their game.

After all of the success Celtic have enjoyed, Brendan Rodgers dare not fail in his first season in Glasgow.

Can you imagine the headlines?