The SPFL returns in August and the RockSport bawheids have been coming up with their predictions for the 2016/17 season.. It’s always a dangerous game trying to use the crystal ball as football is such an unpredictable game but never scared to put it out there here are our predictions for the season.
It will annoy many fans who refer to the two best supported teams in Scottish football as the ” ugly sisters ” but normal service will be resumed even though this is the Gers first season back in the top flight in nearly half a decade.
Warburton v Rodgers will be the story that grips the back pages in Scotland from August 2016 to May 2017, and although the Dons and the Jambos will have their moments, the season [ we think anyway ] will be the return to the tussle of blue v green with the others best chance of silverware in cup competitions.
Here’s how we think the Top 12 will end this season. Premiership Celtic Rangers Aberdeen Hearts St Johnstone Motherwell Inverness CT Kilmarnock Ross County Dundee Partick Thistle
They aren’t everyone’s favourites.. but the passion and the drama of the Old Firm returns to the Premiership in 2016/17
If ever there was an advert for a 16 team top flight or a ” Premiership 2 ” it is this season’s 2nd tier with Hibs still looking to claw their way out of the Championship and now Dundee Utd and Dunfermline in the mix along with Falkirk, so unlucky not to go up via a play off last season, and another former top flight side, Ayr Utd , joining a competitive division.
Here’s how we reckon the 10 will finish in tier two in 2016/17 Championship Hibs Falkirk Dundee Utd Dunfermline St Mirren Raith QOS Ayr Dumbarton
You will be putting in the miles if you are a fan of a League 1 club in season 2016/17 with outposts Stranraer and Peterhead big away days for central belt teams but there is also a day out at the National Stadium to look forward to with promoted Queens Park in the mix.
League 1 to look like this at the end of the current campaign. League 1 Alloa Stranraer Airdrie Livingston Albion Rovers Peterhead Queens Park Stenhousemuir East Fife Brechin
New boys Edinburgh City are back in the Scottish League for the first time since the mid-1950’s via the Pyramid Play Off and if truth be told any of the teams outside our predicted Top 3 could be facing a Highland or Lowland League club in an attempt to preserve SPFL status at the end of the season.
This division has the youngest manager in the SPFL [ Liam Fox at Cowdenbeath ] and a Rangers legend [ Barry Ferguson ] looking to make promotion with Clyde after play off heartache in 2015/16. The crowds might not be huge in the fourth tier but it will certainly be the most unpredictable division in the SPFL this campaign.
Here’s our prediction for the final League 2 table this season.
League 2 Clyde Annan Forfar Cowdenbeath Arbroath Stirling Elgin City Edinburgh City Montrose
Berwick would occupy the pyramid play off position in this table and would have to play a two legged play off to preserve their SPFL status against either the Lowland or Highland League Champions at the end of the season…
The entrance to Central Park, where Stock Cars and football co-exist…Will it be a new dawn for Cowdenbeath FC this season?
Lowland League / Highland League…..
East Stirlingshire were the first team to fall out of League 2 last season via the pyramid play off which was established to create an opportunity for new teams to progress to the SPFL. Highland and Lowland League Champions clash at the end of the season with the winner getting a chance to join League 2 after another play off, this time against the bottom side in League 2.
Depending on geography the defeated club in the pyramid play off final is given a place in either the Highland or Lowland League and ‘shire’s proximity to the central belt saw them replace Edinburgh City in the Lowland League this season. Can the former Falkirk based club bounce back at the first attempt.
Here’s our prediction for the Lowland League finish in 2016/17
Hawick Royal Albert
Civil Service Strollers
Gala Fairydean Rovers
Vale of Leithen
Amongst a sea of rugby pitches stands Gala Fairydean Rovers FC’s ground in the borders…
Cove Rangers of Aberdeen missed out on the pyramid play off final last season after losing to Edinburgh City but the former Junior club will give it another shot in a very competitive Highland division this season.
Our prediction for the Highland League this term.
Highland League Deveronvale FC’s ground in Banff.
We are also predicting the main English Leagues this season as Leicester City try to retain their title. The Foxes beat Celtic 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in a pre-season International Champions Cup match. A competitive workout for last season’s surprise package down south….
The English Premier League has a huge following worldwide and Scotland loves to see what the big neighbours over the garden fence are doing so there will be huge interest in the Special One at Man U, the London clubs who could mount a challenge and the Kloppmeister at Liverpool etc. Scot David Moyes is now manager at Sunderland while Leicester will have to go some to match their title win of last season. Will the Champions League prove too much for the Foxes? Here’s our Premier League finish down south this season.
Premier League 2016/17
Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, two teams that were once champions of England, and Europe in Villa’s case, add to a strong line-up in England’s second tier in 2016/17. Will Norwich bounce back and can Newcastle under Benitez and Leeds, out of the limelight for too long, also return to former glories? No shortage of tasty treats in the English Championship from August 2016.
Our Final table prediction.
Burton will play QPR twice in the English Championship this season.
League 1 and 2..
There are some big clubs in English League 1 and 2 with the likes of Sheffield Utd and Bolton now in the third tier.
We’ll take the Blades to bounce back to the Championship as League 1 Champions with Blackpool to stop the rot and claim the League 2 top spot.
The former ”Conference” of English football is the pathway for two new clubs to come into English League 2 every season with the bottom two in League 2 dropping down. Former League clubs Lincoln City and York City are amongst those who now hold National League status and could progress back to the fourth tier but watch out for Gateshead who could give England’s North East another League club by the summer of 2017.
Northern Ireland and Wales….
Scottish fans will get a chance to see the top two teams from last season in the top national divisions of N.Ireland and Wales in this season’s Irn Bru sponsored Challenge Cup when Bala Town and TNS of Wales and Crusaders and Linfield of N.Ireland play as invited teams in a tournament that includes Scottish Championship, League 1 and 2 clubs and the Under 20 teams of our Premiership clubs.
Seaview…the home of N.Ireland Champions Crusaders FC.