Celtic have been crowned Premiership champions for a ninth successive time and Hearts have been relegated after top-flight clubs reached a unanimous decision that the season could not be concluded.
The Scottish Professional Football League announced the widely anticipated decision after a meeting with all clubs on Monday, with places determined on a points-per-game average.
The SPFL chairman, Murdoch MacLennan, said in a statement: “Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to officially congratulate Celtic on their achievement of winning the Ladbrokes Premiership this season, and also to sincerely commiserate with Hearts on their relegation.”
The season was halted on March 13 because of coronavirus, with Celtic 13 points clear of second-placed Rangers, having played a game more. Hearts were four points adrift of second-bottom Hamilton.
MacLennan added: “We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters. This is not the way anybody involved with Scottish football would have wanted to conclude the league season but, given the grave and unprecedented circumstances that we are facing, the board has agreed that it is the only practical way forward.
“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time. Scottish Government restrictions and deep concerns for both player and spectator safety left the SPFL with no realistic option but to call the Ladbrokes Premiership now and we thank the Premiership clubs for their support on this decision.“
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: ”On Friday, Ladbrokes Premiership clubs expressed their clear and unanimous view that there was no realistic prospect of completing the outstanding fixtures from Season 2019-20.
“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 Ladbrokes Premiership be brought to an end. This decision now enables us to pay out around £7million in fees to help clubs stay afloat during this incredibly difficult time. We will begin processing these payments immediately.
“The focus of all those involved in the game will now turn to how we get football up and running again safely as soon as possible. Nobody should be under any illusion as to how complicated and difficult a challenge it will be to return Scottish football to normality. We will be liaising with Government on the best way forward and working to ensure that all of our 42 clubs are playing football again as soon as humanly possible.”
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell tweeted: “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. Thank you for your wonderful support, Celts!”
On the club’s official website, Celtic asked fans to observe the current Covid-19 lockdown guidance by celebrating at home, paid tribute to key workers, and urged fans not to congregate at Celtic Park: “TODAY Celtic have been declared Scottish Premiership Champions for the 9th season in a row. We have dominated the Premiership, winning 26 games out of 30. We have scored 89 goals, conceded just 19, and established a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table. We are champions for a reason.
“We dedicate this victory to you. To all our supporters. To the key workers who are saving lives, cleaning hospitals, stacking shelves and shielding loved ones at home. Our 9, is your 9. We want Celtic fans all over the world to celebrate in style, but, of course, safety is the number one priority for all, and for now this means celebrating in our homes. We all must stay safe and stay home. Please DO NOT come to Celtic Park. We dedicate this league title to you.”