Scottish Premier League - Competition Format

Competition Format

There are currently twelve clubs in the Scottish Premier League. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner.

A season, which runs from July until May, is divided into two phases. During the first phase, each club plays three games against every other team, either once at home and twice away or vice-versa. After this first phase of matches, by which time all clubs will have played 33 games, the league splits into a 'top six' and a 'bottom six'. Each club then plays a further five matches against the other five teams in their own section. Points achieved during the first phase of 33 matches are carried forward to the second phase, but the teams will compete only within their own sections during the second phase. After the first phase has been completed, clubs cannot move out of their own section in the league, even if they achieve more or fewer points than a higher or lower ranked team, respectively.

At the beginning of each season, the Scottish Premier League 'predicts' the likely positions of each club in order to produce a fixture schedule that will ensure the best possible chance of all clubs playing each other twice at home and twice away. These are known as the league seeding and are based on clubs' performance in previous years. However, should a club not finish in the half where it was predicted to finish, it faces the possibility of playing an unequal number of home and away games; for example, one club may play another three times at home and once away.

The bottom placed SPL club at the end of the season is relegated, and swaps places with the winner of the Scottish First Division, provided that the winner satisfies the league's entry criteria.

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