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Celtic officially crowned Scottish Premiership champions in record equalling ninth successive title while Hearts relegated

 

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Celtic boss Neil Lennon with the Scottish Premiership trophy at Parkhead last year

Celtic boss Neil Lennon with the Scottish Premiership trophy at Parkhead last year

Celtic boss Neil Lennon with the Scottish Premiership trophy at Parkhead last year

Celtic have been crowned champions of the Ladbrokes Premiership and Hearts relegated after a decision was made to conclude the season with immediate effect, the SPFL has announced.

Neil Lennon's Celtic were 13 points clear at the top of the table with eight games left and having played one match more than second-placed Rangers.

The crowning keeps alive the Hoops' hopes of winning 10 titles in a row, a feat never before achieved in Scottish football.

At the bottom of the table, Hearts were just four points behind Hamilton Academical with eight games left but have been officially relegated to the Championship.

The club could challenge the decision as owner Ann Budge had previously said she would launch legal action if the club were demoted.

The decision was reached after a meeting involving clubs on Monday morning, with the final table determined on an average points per game basis.

"We have dominated the Premiership, winning 26 games out of 30," read a Celtic FC statement.

"We have scored 89 goals, conceded just 19, and established a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table. We are champions for a reason.

"We dedicate this victory to you. To all our supporters. To the key workers who are saving lives, cleaning hospitals, stacking shelves and shielding loved ones at home

"We want Celtic fans all over the world to celebrate in style, but, of course, safety is the number one priority for all, and for now this means celebrating in our homes. We all must stay safe and stay home. Please DO NOT come to Celtic Park."

Prize money worth a total of £7m will be paid out to clubs as a result of the decision.

The announcement also confirms a third-place finish for Stephen Robinson's Motherwell.

SPFL chairman Murdock MacLennan said the board agreed this decision was the 'only practical way forward' due to the 'grave and unprecetented circumstances' of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters," he added.

“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time. Scottish Government restrictions and deep concerns for both player and spectator safety left the SPFL with no realistic option but to call the Ladbrokes Premiership now and we thank the Premiership clubs for their support on this decision.”

Belfast Telegraph