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Historical Ranking: SCOTLAND

A historical ranking of football clubs competing in Scotland.

[Updated to: end of 2012-2013 season]

Rank Club Points
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Rangers
Celtic
Heart of Midlothian
Aberdeen
Hibernian
Motherwell
St Mirren
Dundee
Kilmarnock
Partick Thistle
Falkirk
Clyde
1077
960
331
308
292
247
244
240
232
217
203
201
Rank Second Tier Clubs Points
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
Greenock Morton
Queens Park
Dundee United
Hamilton Academical
Raith Rovers
St Johnstone
Dunfermline Athletic
Ayr United
Dumbarton
East Fife
187
180
173
155
152
148
145
140
138
88
Rank Third Tier Clubs Points
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
Queen of the South
Cowdenbeath
Albion Rovers
Stirling Albion
Arbroath
Alloa Athletic
East Stirlingshire
Forfar Athletic
Stenhousemuir
Brechin City
86
82
75
67
64
60
59
54
47
43
Rank Fourth Tier Clubs Points
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
Montrose
Livingston
Inverness & Caledonian Thistle
Stranraer
Berwick Rangers
Ross County
Airdrie United
Annan Athletic
Elgin City
Peterhead
38
37
29
26
24
18
7
0
0
0
Rank Non-league & Defunct Clubs with a Score Points
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
Airdrieonians
Third Lanark
St. Bernards
Clydebank (1st & 2nd clubs)
Leith Athletic
Abercorn
Vale of Leven
Port Glasgow Athletic
Renton
Arthurlie
Kings Park
Bo’ness
Ayr FC
Armadale
Edinburgh City
Gretna
Bathgate
Johnstone
Ayr Parkhouse
Broxburn United
Linthouse
Cambuslang
Cowlairs
Lochgelly
Nithsdale Wanderers
Clackmannan
Dundee Wanderers
Northern
Thistle
176
156
59
58
52
35
35
28
21
20
18
15
13
11
8
8
7
7
5
5
5
4
4
4
3
1
1
1
1

Click here to discuss this ranking on our forum


The About A Ball Ranking is a progressive points scoring system devised by our statisticians to grade each league club according to their historical achievements since the beginning of organised football in that country. We felt such a ranking was necessary in order to help settle age old debates about which is the biggest/best club in each country and which ones historically merit a top division place. Of course, there are only a limited number of places available in the top division of any given country, so who really are the sleeping giants in the lower divisions and which clubs are currently flying well above their historical status?

NOTE: We have limited this ranking to teams currently competing in the top national divisions to keep it relevant to the modern day. There is no point in saying that a now defunct or amateur club is one of the biggest clubs in the country. For example, Third Lanark and Airdrieonians are two of the famous old names in Scottish football but they both folded and dropped out of the league. The new Airdrie United club have not been awarded the points obtained by Airdrieonians because they actually bought out Clydebank and relocated them to Airdrie. We have now included a section at the bottom of the table listing the points achieved by former league clubs.

NOTE: National championships have been contested in Scotland since the 1890/91 season when eleven teams competed for the inaugural title. The second division began in 1893/94 and the first cup competition was held in 1874.

How it works

Points awarded as follows:

Champions Cup Win +15
Other European Trophy Win +10
League Championship +10
FA Cup Win +6
League Cup Win +3
Second Level Division Win +3
Lower Division Win +1
Season in top division +2
Season in 2nd division +1
Bonuses: Super Cup; Club Cup; Double +1

Notes: The scores include any points scored by a club under a former name. In cases where clubs have merged or re-formed, the new club has been awarded the points accumulated by its previous incarnations wherever there is a continuation or substantial link between the old and new clubs.

Criticisms and Improvements

There is no account taken of when the points were scored so a team (i.e. Queen’s Park) could have scored most of their points a long time ago but are still ranked high up today. The teams did not all join the league at the same time so founder members such as Hearts have had a much longer period in which to accumulate points than the newer members. The old clubs will have benefited from the points for a large number of seasons in the top divisions and therefore be above clubs with a more impressive record over a shorter period. Our system only takes account of on the pitch successes and not off the pitch factors such as attendance and annual budget which could indicate a big club. The About a Ball system could be improved (and also complicated) by including points for average attendances and annual budget/profit, dividing points totals by the number of years clubs have been in the league, or by giving less weight to points scored a long time ago. However, we feel that the passage of time should not be taken into account because staying power and longevity are indicators of a great club. Equally, small clubs enjoying a current period of success are not guaranteed to remain big. All in all, we are satisfied that the ranking shows the relative playing merits of the current league clubs based on historical success, and identifies clubs currently under or over achieving.

Conclusions

An emphatic duopoly! Rangers and Celtic have achieved scores far higher than those reached by the leading clubs in any other country. This is mainly down to the large number of league championships and doubles won by each club, and the near total dominance they have enjoyed since competitive football began in Scotland. Rangers are still comfortably ahead of Celtic, but the gap has closed over the past couple of seasons as Rangers have been out of the top flight for the first time in their distinguished history, and it will probably continue to close further until their return. There is then a huge gap to the other clubs who are fairly closely grouped together. Hearts benefit from having been around longer then Aberdeen to just pip them into third place.

Of the historic top twelve clubs, only Clyde, Rangers, Falkirk and Dundee are outside the top division in the 2013-14 season; Dundee and Falkirk are competing at the second level, Rangers are currently down in the third following their liquidation and resumption in the bottom tier for the start of the 2012-13 season and Clyde have slumped to the fourth. Two of the four clubs that have taken their places in the top flight (Dundee United and St Johnstone) are now playing at one level higher than their traditional second tier status. The other two (Inverness & Caledonian Thistle and Ross County) are relative newcomers to the Scottish league and have shot up through the system to a heady three levels above their historic status. Livingston, currently in the second tier, is the only other club that is more than one level about it’s historical status.

NOTE: Dundee United were previously known as Dundee Hibernian and spent 6 seasons in the league under this name. Livingston have been awarded the points obtained under their previous incarnation as Meadowbank Thistle.

It is strictly forbidden to copy or reproduce these tables without permission. Any breach of copyright may lead to prosecution. The tables will be updated annually and any feedback on the results/corrections to data is welcome.

aboutaball.com 2013

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15 Responses to “Historical Ranking: SCOTLAND”

  • Iain:

    Surely Ayr United should be credited with the points earned by Ayr FC and Ayr Parkhouse?

    • Editor:

      It’s hard to decide exactly what to do about mergers. Does the new club have points from one of the former clubs – if so, which one? Do they have the average points of the former clubs or none at all? They can’t have both because those clubs were playing at the same time, giving the new club an unfair advantage – they would have had two opportunities to earn points over each of those seasons compared to other clubs only having one, and they would be credited with playing more seasons of football than there have actually been seasons since football began in Scotland.

  • [...] have checked some sources and found this site which does indeed list Hearts as third in points total behind the Old Firm. However when we [...]

  • GreenMaestro:

    You need to seperate the Rangers Points, those gained before their liquidation last year, ought to be listed with the likes of Airdrieonians, Third Lanark, St. Bernards, Clydebank (1st & 2nd clubs) and Leith Athletic. The NEW club has only won a single honour, being the Scottish 3rd division.

    Thanks for your attention on this matter.

    C.

  • eoin mac choinnich:

    rangers fc are a defunct club after going into LIQUIDATION,(for running up huge tax bills and owing hundreds of creditors who rejected a c.v.a) from where there is no return.
    Conclusions paragraph is also misleading.
    rangers were LIQUIDATED (look it up in the dictionary) not enforced relegation to the bottom tier. The entity playing football in the lowest division are a new club not a year old yet at time of writing, with only associate membership.
    This all occurred only last summer, as a historical site surely you would have been aware of the recent history?

  • Mandlan:

    Another point in Celtic’s favour in their quest to overhaul their greatest rivals is that Rangers were liquidated in 2012 and therefore no longer exist.

  • Jonny l:

    Ehhh, there is no rangers!!! They weren’t relegated or demoted, they are bust and in liquidation. Sort it out man!!!

  • william carlin:

    does the points accrued by the rangers 2012 apply to the old liquidated rangers?

  • larry:

    Using your system, teams get 17 points for winning the league and cup, and 15 points for winning the biggest prize in club football. As a supporter, I would trade 10 championships and every domestic cup under the sun to see my team become the best in the world (again).

  • Mr Custard:

    And before any of the undead appear on here quoting a hotchpotch of figures and inconsequential smalltown committees stating they are the same club then here is what FIFA have to say on the matter(http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/news/newsid=1977017.html) :

    Rangers go under
    14 June
    Rangers’ perilous financial position had been an open secret but there was still shock when, after 140 years of history and a world record 54 league titles, the club was consigned to liquidation in mid-June. The Glasgow giants were subsequently reformed as a new company and granted entry to the Third Division, Scotland’s fourth tier, which they currently lead by nine points with a game in hand.

    Any talk of “holding” companies going bust but leaving the club is a sham that defies the basics of company law. The unpaid bills? Facepainters, Crystal makers, newspaper sellers…..all direct bills relating to the club. The club (until recently) produced annual accounts to be submitted, the club…..not some pie in the sky holding company.

    ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This club is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker!
    ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies!

    ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig!

    ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!
    THIS IS AN EX-CLUB!!

    • Editor:

      We’re never going to be able to satisfy both sides of this divide by either removing Rangers or letting them remain, but we try to be consistent when dealing with this sort of thing across all six of our rankings from different countries and we have to deal with half a dozen or more liquidations and reformations every season (primarily in Italy but increasingly everywhere else too these days). Without trawling through countless legal documents and judgements, we try to use as much discretion as possible when deciding whether a reformed club is at least the spiritual successor of the defunct club. Inheriting the same stadium and fans is a significant part of it, as is taking over the former entity’s place in the league system. If we applied the rules strictly to the words of the legal judgements in each case, there would be hardly any teams with any points left in Italy!

      Wikipedia (ok, we know it could have been written by anyone but it does list its sources) says “its business, assets and history were sold to a new company … this company then applied for the transfer of Rangers’ SFA membership which was agreed by the SFA” so there is at least continuity on some levels. Perhaps we’ll wait to see what happens if/when the new Rangers next play Celtic and let the Celtic fans decide. If they treat it like any other game against any other opponent then we’ll know it’s definitely a wholly new club, but if there appears to be some sort of rivalry then we’ll know that the spirit of the old club has survived.

      • Stevie:

        How do you buy history ?
        I’m I Albert Einstein if I buy his history ?

      • GreenMaestro:

        So are Aidrie United the Spiritual Successor of Clydebank or Airdrieonians?

        Having bought and transferred Clydebank, but relocating them to Airdrie. Are theyu infact the spiritual continuation of Clydebank or Airdrieonians?

        For the sake of consistency, I think you should make teh distinction between the two Rangers incarnations in the same way as you have with the Airdrie incarnations.

  • eoin mac choinnich:

    please tell me how you can SELL history???
    Also “spiritual successor” thankyou mr editor, i thought i’d heard all the excuses but thats a new one on me.

  • Cameron:

    That’s a shocking bail-out excuse Mr Ed. Rangers FC was liquidated thru the Scottish legal system in 2012. Thereafter, some assets were sold by the Administrators, in an attempt to recoup funds: the stadium and training ground for example, to a venture capitalist who formed The Rangers FC. There was absolutely no continuity. As with all newcomers to the League they are merely Associate Members of the SFA/SPFL, and applied for the vacant League spot left by the now defunct Rangers FC.
    Who cares about Italy ? This is Scotland, we place a higher value on integrity.

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