Scottish Football League is a league of football teams in Scotland, comprising
, Scottish Second
and Scottish Third
.Since July 2007 the league is known as the Irn-Bru
Scottish Football League after a sponsorship
deal with A.G. Barr
The league was formed in the 1890s to provide the growing number of
football clubs in the country with a more consistent fixture
The Scottish League's first season of competition was in 1890–91
. The original
clubs in membership were:
Renton were expelled after five games for playing against a
professional club, but returned for the following season.
Celtic and Rangers (along with Aberdeen
who joined later) have never been
relegated, although Aberdeen have finished bottom of the table.
Heart of Midlothian and St. Mirren are still in the upper reaches
of the Scottish league
although the four do not play in this league, plying
their trade in the Scottish Premier League instead. Dumbarton play
in the Third Division (the fourth flight) of the league. Every
other club is either defunct or out of the League.
In its initial season Rangers
topped the league on equal
points. No thought of separating teams by goal average
, or goal difference had been
considered and the two teams played a play-off
to decide the winner. The result of the
play-off was a 2:2 draw and both teams were declared joint winners,
each taking possession of the trophy for six months. This was only
occasion in which the Scottish league was tied. Goal average was
only brought in for the 1921/22 season and replaced by goal
difference for the 1971/72 season.
Split into divisions
The league proved to be highly successful, and in 1893 a Second
Division was formed by the inclusion of a number of clubs
previously in the Scottish
. Promotion was initially based on a ballot of
clubs; automatic promotion was not introduced until 1922.
The onset of World War I
saw the Second
Division being suspended, not being reintroduced until 1921 when
the Central Football League
was absorbed as a new division with automatic promotion.
In 1923, the League decided to introduce a Third Division. The
was used as its backbone but the new set-up lasted only
three years before it collapsed under heavy financial losses.
From 1926 until 1946, the League returned to two divisions.
Post-World War II
reforms saw the
League resume with three divisions.
Postwar seasons saw the divisions renamed 'A', 'B' and 'C' with the
last section also including reserve sides. In 1949, the 'C'
Division was expanded to two sections — North-West and
The withdrawal of the reserves from 'C' Division in 1955 saw a
return to two divisions with the five first teams in Division C
being given automatic promotion. There were then 18 clubs in
Division A and 19 in Division B.
In 1956 the divisions were renamed Division 1 and Division 2.
Clydebank were elected to Division 2 as the 20th club in 1966, but
following the demise of Third
in 1967, the Second Division kept operating with just 19
clubs; the situation would not be corrected until the next change
of format, which happened in 1975.
This change of structure split the league into three divisions,
Premier, First, and Second Divisions. This permitted more frequent
fixtures between the top clubs; the expectation was that meant
greater revenue for them, and it was hoped it would stimulate
greater interest, at a time when attendance at league matches had
dropped alarmingly. A new club entered the league - Meadowbank Thistle
- who were Edinburgh's
third league team (who would eventually become Livingston F.C.
This three-divisional structure (of 38 clubs) continued until
Four-division period and SPL split
After a couple of decades, the league again reorganised, with four
divisions of 10 clubs, as Inverness Caledonian
and Ross County
elected to round out the league.
In 1998 the Premier Division clubs split from the league to form
the Scottish Premier League
The remaining leagues, of ten clubs each, kept their names and the
Premier Division was not reconstituted, leaving First, Second and
When the SPL expanded to 12 clubs in 2000, the SFL took in two new
members in a further round of league enlargement with Elgin City
joining from the Highland League
. This brought the
Scottish Leagues up to 42 teams - 12 in the Scottish Premier League
and 10 in
each of the three Scottish Football League divisions.
rejected from the Scottish League at each time of asking, despite
having a setup and facilities arguably better than some of their
opponents. Other teams that have fallen at this hurdle include
Scottish club Gretna
, who had previously
played in the English Northern
, were admitted in 2002 to replace the defunct
. Shortly afterwards
who came second
in the process when Gretna were chosen to fill the gap created by
Airdrieonians' demise, simply purchased ailing side Clydebank
, renaming then and moving them to
Each season the winners of the First Division are eligible to be
promoted to the Scottish Premier
providing their stadium meets certain criteria. As of
March 2005, these criteria include priority tenancy or ownership of
a stadium with at least 6,000 seats, and an undersoil heating
system for the pitch. Falkirk
to meet these demands resulted in their being refused promotion
despite winning the First Division in 2002–03; at that time, the
SPL required 10,000 seats for its member clubs. They have since
built a new stadium with an all-seater capacity of 7,000, and
prompted by a campaign by Inverness Caledonian Thistle
the SPL reduced its seating requirement to 6,000, making them now
eligible to join the SPL
having won the First Division
In 2008, the SFL again required a new team as a result of the
demise of Gretna. Annan Athletic
previously of the East of Scotland League, were voted to join the
in time for the 2008–09 season.There were 5 bids in
total for the position, with unsuccessful bids coming from Spartans
, Preston Athletic
and Edinburgh City
Promotion and relegation between the First and Second Division, and
the Second and Third Division, are currently decided using a
combination of automatic movement and playoffs
Rangers have won the greatest number of league titles in the
league's history, with 52 national championships (including SPL
titles) to their name.
In March 2007, a self-conducted review found the league to be three times more expensive to run than equivalent leagues in England, with a report stating the league structure was "outdated". The report found that the Football Conference has four employees looking after 68 clubs, while the SFL has 14 people running leagues with just 30 clubs. The SFL, which runs Scotland's First, Second and Third Divisions, lacks a "commercial engine", according to the report.