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Celtic Crowned Scottish Champions Amid COVID-19 Interruption

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Celtic were crowned champions for a record-equalling ninth consecutive season as the Scottish Premiership campaign was declared over on Monday.

Neil Lennon’s men were 13 points clear at the top of the table when the season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic in March with eight games remaining for the majority of clubs.

Second-placed Rangers had a game in hand to try and cut that gap and were due to face Celtic twice more before the end of the season.

A points-per-game formula for determining final league placings also sees bottom club Hearts relegated unless there is any progress in talks over league reconstruction.

“It is, of course, a real shame that we were not able to see out the league in front of our fans. However, no one can deny how deserved this title is,” said Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

“While we rightly celebrate this fantastic, deserved achievement we must take time to consider the wider circumstances we have all been experiencing and remember those who have helped us through these unique and challenging times with such bravery and selflessness.

“We dedicate this title to everyone who has cared for us and all those who have been affected by these times of challenge and difficulty.”

The three leagues below the Premiership were ended over a month ago when clubs passed a controversial resolution that allowed the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) board to also bring the top flight to a halt if it deemed the games could no longer be played.

Last week Rangers failed to gain the support of the 42 member clubs for an independent inquiry into how the vote on the resolution was passed.

Prize money to be released

Premiership clubs agreed on Friday that finishing the season was no longer a realistic option.

Scottish clubs will not be allowed to return to training until June 10 at the earliest.

The cost of testing and the fact a high percentage of players will be out of contract in May and June were also highlighted by clubs as reasons why making a return to finishing the campaign was impractical.

“The SPFL has today announced that, following consultation with all 12 top-flight clubs, the Board of the SPFL has determined that the 2019/20 Premiership has been concluded with immediate effect,” the league said in a statement.

By calling the season to an end, the SPFL can now release a final instalment of prize money to clubs based on their league position.

“On Friday, Premiership clubs expressed their clear and unanimous view that there was no realistic prospect of completing the outstanding fixtures from season 2019/20,” said SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster.

“The SPFL board met this morning and in line with the express agreement of member clubs in April, the board determined that League season 2019/20 and the Premiership be brought to an end.

“This decision now enables us to pay out around £7 million ($8.5 million) in fees to help clubs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time.”

Leagues in France, Belgium and the Netherlands have also called their seasons to a premature end.

However, many more across Europe are hoping to follow the example of Germany’s Bundesliga, which has already returned behind closed doors and with a series of strict safety measures in place to protect players and staff.

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