Craziest End-of-Season Scenarios for SPL Teams
With just nine games to go, we're getting to the stage in the season where things start to get wrapped up.
Of course, this season in the SPL we've known how a couple of things were going to turn out, pretty much from the very beginning. As predicted, Celtic are runaway leaders at the top end, and Dundee have sunk without trace at the bottom.
In between, though, it's all been quite ridiculous, and although gaps are starting to appear, any number of outcomes could happen before the season ends. Throw in the Scottish Cup, the League Cup and the fact that there are international call-ups up for grabs, and there's still a whole lot to play for.
Here are some of the more ridiculous scenarios we might expect to see before the season is over, ranging from the craziest and most out-there to saner, more realistic possibilities.
Someone to Break Kris Boyd's Record for Goals in an SPL Season
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Back in 2005/06, Kris Boyd, then with Rangers, set the record for most goals in an SPL season when he bagged 32.
This season, Leigh Griffiths of Hibernian and Billy McKay of Inverness Caley Thistle sit joint top of the goal-scoring charts, with 19 goals each. Michael Higdon of Motherwell is just behind them with 18 goals.
With nine games remaining, it would take something incredible for any of these players to equal Boyd's record, requiring an average of roughly 1.4 goals per game to take them up to 32 before the season is out.
Who knows, though? A couple of hat-tricks and it could start to look like a possibility...
Hearts to Go into Administration and Be Relegated; Dundee to Stay Up
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Two clubs, linked by a mutual love of twirling scarves and singing "Hey Jude" at games are currently separated by 15 points in the SPL table, and it would take a miracle for Dundee to avoid relegation back to the First Division.
Could that miracle come in the form of Hearts going into administration?
There are so many question marks around the financial situation at the Tynecastle club, with Ukio Bankas going out of business and the club currently owned by—wait for it—the country of Lithuania.
If the situation were to worsen, Hearts could find themselves in administration, and as we saw last season with Rangers before they went out of business, that brings with it a 10-point penalty, and would reduce the gap between the sides to just five points.
Dundee to Finish with Fewest Wins Ever in an SPL Season
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In 2005/06 and in 1998/99, Livingston and Dunfermline only managed to win four games over the course of the entire season.
Dundee look set to avoid becoming the first team to manage fewer than four wins, having currently won three games so far this campaign, but what if they failed to pick up another three points between now and the end of the season?
It isn't likely, but with the way Dundee have been playing you can't rule it out.
Celtic to Break Their Own Record for Goals in a Season
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They might have missed out on the chance to break their own record for points in an SPL season—103 in 2001/02—but Celtic could still break their own record for number of goals scored in a season.
They managed 105 in 2003/04, and while it would be a pretty sensational feat were they to pull it off in the games remaining—they'd need to score 38 in nine games, averaging more than four a match—with the league already sewn up it's about all they have to left to play for.
Kris Boyd and James McFadden to Earn Recalls to the Scotland Squad
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With the exception of the seemingly never-ending "will they?/won't they?" between Celtic and Norwich City over striker Gary Hooper, the January transfer window was pretty much excitement-free up here in Scotland.
Then, shortly after the window shut, Motherwell and Kilmarnock each pulled off a shock move by bringing James McFadden and Kris Boyd back to the SPL, after spells in England and the USA respectively.
Prediction: Both to score 10 goals each before the season is out, and Gordon Strachan to recall them to the Scotland squad.
Okay, that's pretty far-fetched, but then again, so was Scotland beating France in Paris, and we all know what happened there...
Hibs to Win the Scottish Cup
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They got to the final last year, and have made it to the semis this year, where they'll face the relatively easy task of putting out Falkirk, but in some ways this might be the craziest of the lot.
Hibs winning the Scottish Cup?
You must be out of your mind.
The last time Hibs won the trophy, Adolf Hitler was a 13-year-old boy, cars were still practically unheard of and Edward VII was on the throne of Great Britain (I don't know who that is either).
But this season, there's something almost scarily Hearts-esque about Hibs.
They're pretty dull to watch, they keep it tight at the back and, strangest of all, they're winning games.
They've come a long way from the team who finished 11th last time around, and although they got their hopes up before their embarrassing 5-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts back in May, they're better equipped to win the cup this year, even if it ends up being Celtic they face in the final.
Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County to Finish 2nd and 3rd
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If someone had said to you 10, or even five years ago, that Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County would not only both be in the SPL, but that they'd be competing at the top end of the table for places in Europe, you'd really have questioned their Scottish football credentials.
Or their sanity.
Yet strange as it may seem, that's exactly how things have gone this season, and with less than 10 games to go, the two currently sit in third and fourth place respectively, behind Motherwell in second.
Stuart McCall's side remain favourites to finish the season as runners-up to Celtic, but both Highland clubs are playing well, and you wouldn't bet against them pulling this off.
Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen and Dundee United All to Finish Outside the Top 6
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Traditionally the "other four" big sides in Scottish football after Celtic and Rangers—Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and Dundee United—tend to finish in the top half of the table.
This season it's realistic that they might all end up playing in the bottom six once the league splits into two in a few weeks time.
With four games to play until the league of 12 becomes two leagues of six, Hibs are the only side of the four currently in the top six, and even then, they're just a point ahead of Kilmarnock, who sit in seventh place.
Of course, it's all still very tight, and there are only four points separating St. Johnstone in fifth and Aberdeen in ninth, but this is a pretty realistic proposition.
In the SPL era, it's something that's never happened, although in 2002/03 Hearts were the only side from these four to finish in the top half of the league.