Distractions and Rangers’ absence could see low Celtic points total

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Celtic advanced to the third round of Champions League qualifying with a comfortable 5-0 aggregate victory over Irish minnows Cliftonville this week, and looking at the SPL line-up for the forthcoming season, comfort should be a recurring theme for the Bhoys this term.

The financial demise and subsequent demotion of Glasgow rivals Rangers to the bottom tier of Scottish football has all-but handed the Hoops the title until the country’s second superpower returns to the top-flight.

The 1/40 about Neil Lennon’s side claiming a third successive crown looks nailed on but the understandably short price means that backers would be advised to look elsewhere in the market.

The 2011-12 campaign saw Celtic romp to the title despite the presence of their city rivals.

As the wheels came off at Ibrox the Parkhead outfit went on to win 30 of their 38 matches, accumulating 93 points as they finished 20 points ahead of Ally McCoist’s side.

It is 11/8 that the champions go one better this year and canter to the title by 21-30 points, while it is 11/2 that they go one victory better and notch 96-100 points overall.

Last term Celtic inevitably strolled to the SPL crown but racked up just 79 points, losing an unexpected seven times.

Second-placed Motherwell finished 16 points adrift despite a relatively humble showing from the hot favourites, highlighting the gulf between the Bhoys and the rest of the division.

Champions League distractions, and quite possibly complacency due to the absence of genuine competition, played great roles in a lowish points total for Lennon’s charges and 2013-14 could well be the same.

Their performance in Europe last year showed that they can handle themselves at the top of the game and they will be keen to embark on such a distraction again, while there has been no notable increase in the quality of the SPL’s chasing pack.

Taking this into consideration it may be wise to back the Hoops to register a fairly low 76-80 points at 9/2.

The dearth of competition throughout the league means that 6/4 on a title win by between 11-20 points looks the pick of the bets here.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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