The Scottish Premiership, known as the Ladbrokes Premiership for sponsorship, is the highest division of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), the league competition for professional male football clubs in Scotland. The Scottish Premiership was founded in July 2013 after the SPFL was formed by a merger of the Scottish football Premier League and the Scottish Football League. There are 12 teams in this division, each playing 38 games per season. Since its inception in the 2013/14 season, 16 clubs have played in the Scottish Premiership. Celtic is the current league champion and the only league champion since its inception.
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Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. The teams are scored according to the total score, goal difference and goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points will be crowned league champion. If the points, goal difference and goals scored between the teams are equal, a playoff game will be played in a neutral place to determine the final ranking. The play-off will only take place if the position of the teams influences the result of the title, European qualification or relegation and does not take place otherwise.
In the top division of Scottish football were since the 2000/01 season 12 clubs, the longest time without change in the history of the Scottish football league system. During this time, the Scottish Premier League and now the Scottish Premiership operated a "split" format. This is used to avoid the need for a 44-game schedule based on playing four games against each other. This format was used in the Scottish Premier Division in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, but is now considered to be too high a number of games in a league season.
A season that lasts from August to May is divided into two phases. In the first phase, each club denies three games against any other team, either once at home and twice away or vice versa. After this first phase of the games, in which all clubs have already played 33 games, the league divides into two halves - a section "Top Six" and a section "Bottom Six". Each club will play another five games, one against each of the other five teams in its own section. The points scored in the first phase of 33 games are transferred to the second phase, while the teams compete in the second phase only in their own sections. After completing the first phase, clubs can no longer move out of their own half of the league, even if they score more or fewer points than a team of higher or lower rank.
At the beginning of each season, the SPFL "forecasts" the anticipated positions of each club to create a game plan that will ensure the best possible chance that all clubs play against each other twice at home and twice away. This is referred to as league seeding and is based on the performance of the clubs in the previous season. If the clubs do not complete in half, in which they are expected to complete, anomalies can be made in the Schedule List. Clubs may sometimes play at home three times and once away (or vice versa), or a club may end up playing 20 home games (or away games) in one season.
The lowest Premiership club at the end of the season descends and exchanges seats with the winner of the Scottish Championship, provided that the winner complies with the Premiership eligibility criteria. With the creation of the SPFL, promotion and relegation matches of the highest division were introduced for the first time in seventeen years. The eleventh-ranked Premiership Club plays the two-legged play-off winners, with the winner having the right to play in the Scottish Premiership the following season. As a result, two clubs per season can be relegated from the Premiership and two promoted. Before the founding of the Scottish Premiership only one club could be relegated per season - only the second division champion was promoted. The Scottish Football League had used since 2007 playoffs in their three divisions.
UEFA allocates European seats to the Scottish Football Association, following Scotland's position in the coefficient rankings of UEFA countries. The Scottish Football Association assigns a number of these European places to final positions in the Scottish Premier League. At the end of the 2018/19 season, Scotland finished 20th in Europe, with a single UEFA Champions League side and three UEFA Europa League teams.
For the 2019-20 season, the best-placed Scottish Premier League qualify for the Uefa Champions league football first qualifying round, while the second and third placed teams will qualify for the Europa League in the first qualifying round. An extra seat in the first qualifying round of the Uefa league football will be given to the winners of the Scottish Cup. If the winners of this competition have already qualified for the European competition, the fourth placed team will also enter the first qualifying round.
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