September 20, 2021

2021/22 CINCH SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

Yes, It’s that time again! We are just days away from the 2021/22 SPFL Cinch Championship season. As many would call it, the toughest league in the country looks no easier this year with seven out of the ten teams aiming for promotion.

Last time around saw favourites Hearts run away as winners in considerable fashion, after a rocky start with rivals Dunfermline and Raith Rovers failing to keep up their league leading plaudits in the first half of the season. Can the Fife sides find their consistency this season and return to  Scotland’s top tier?

The topic of karma was trending towards the end of the season as just like Hearts, Partick Thistle were promoted in dramatic fashion after being wrongfully demoted due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. After slipping to an eight point gap with leaders Falkirk, Thistle were ruled out by many, however, the perseverance and effort from Ian McCall’s men paired with the league leaders harsh downfall meant the Jags stormed to the title, deservedly returning to Scotland’s second division.

With promotion comes relegation and to the relief of many Scottish football supporters it was to be two of Scotland’s less welcomed clubs who faced demotion.

Much to the misfortunes of Hamilton Academical, their time in Scotland’s top division came to an end after an impressive seven years, relegated into Scotland’s second tier.

Hamilton will be keen to bounce back after a disappointing season. Credit - The Scotsman

Three years of joy for Part time minnows Alloa Athletic were squashed as Peter Grant’s men eventually slumped to the bottom of the table and were consequently relegated back into Scotland’s third tier.

Then came the playoff’s where Dundee dismantled high flyers Raith Rovers after their impressive Fife derby victory setting up a Play-off final with strugglers Killie. The first leg at Den’s Park was a clear indication that things just weren’t going to happen for Tommy Wright and his men as Dundee ran out clear winners with 2-1 victories in both legs leading to Kilmarnock falling to the second tier for the first time in 28 years.

Kilmarncok face life in Scotland's second tier for the first time in 28 years. Credit - Ian McNicol/ Getty Images

Considering all of the main factors, such as; spending, form, previous placements and squad depth BSR Sports have put together a detailed and analytic prediction for the 2021/22 season starting with 10th position:

10th Relegated – Greenock Morton

Key signing – Alan Lithgow, defender (Livingston)

Last season – 9th

Form – WLDDW

Narrowly scraping relegation last season after a play-off victory over Airdrieonians, It doesn’t look like the Ton will improve much this season. Losing 15 players with the addition of four has stripped Gus MacPherson down to a squad of 17 players. He will need to dip into the clubs piggy bank if he has an hope of staying out of a relegation battle this time around.

9th Relegation Play-off – Arbroath

Key signing – Nicky Low, midfielder (East Stirlingshire, loan to permanent)

Last season – 7th

Form – WWLLW

Arbroath will need to add to their roster if they have any hopes of repeating their performances of previous seasons. The loss of loanees Ben Williamson and Jack Hamilton will be a huge blow this term with the latter scoring eight goals in the second half of the season, playing an influential role in their 7th place finish.

8th– Hamilton Academical

Key signing – Kieran MacDonald, defender (Raith Rovers, undisclosed)

Last season – Relegated

Form – WWLD

As we all know in the country’s most tightly contested league, experience is key. This is something Accies seem to be lacking in with a roster packed with Academy graduates. Already on a downward spiral, Brian Rice will need to add a number of experienced heads if he wants to keep the ship afloat at New Douglas Park.

7th – Raith Rovers

Key signing – Christophe Berra, defender (Heart Of Midlothian)

Last season – 3rd

Form – WWDD

The departure of wingers Daniel Armstrong and Kai Kennedy to nearest rivals Kilie and Dunfermline has dealt John McGlynn a massive blow after attracting plaudits with his impressive style of play at Stark’s Park in previous seasons. Former Scotland international, Christophe Berra should bring a high level of essential experience, replacing the Retired Iain Davidson at the back.

6th – Ayr United

Key signing –  Tomi Adeloye, forward (Barnet)

Last season – 8th

Form – DWWW

Manager David Hopkin has opted for the old fashioned approach this term, drafting four players from former club Greenock Morton. The pace and power of Tomi Adeloye up top could be influential, as we have seen in the Premier Sports Cup Group stages, grabbing a brace in his first game at Somerset Park, especially after losing talisman Luke McCowan to Dundee.

5thth– Queen of the South

Key signing –  Ally Roy, forward (Airdrieonians)

Last season – 6th

Form – LWLW

New signing Ally Roy looks to have hit the ground running after scoring a hat-trick against his former team Airdrieonians on Saturday. The losses of defensive rock Ayo Obileye and exciting loanees Aidan Fitzpatrick and Dapo Mebude have left a rather large hole. Fresh from the streets of Gorgie, Midfielder Harry Cochrane has joined the Doonhamers and feels he has a point to prove after being released by childhood club Hearts.

4th– Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Key signing – Billy Mckay, forward (Ross County)

Last season – 5th

Form – WDLL

New manager Billy Dodds has opted for experience within the ranks this term in an impressive summer transfer window. A strong core of Championship winners in Billy McKay, Michael Gardyne and Kirk Broadfoot may be very handy towards the latter stages of the season if the Caley Jags are to push for promotion.

Thistle will be eager to make it succesive promotions as they re-enter the Championship in fine form. Credit - GlasgowLive

3rd  Play-off – Partick Thistle

Key signing – Cammy Smith, forward (Indy Eleven)

Last season – League 1 Champions

Form – LLWWL

Thistle arrive back into Scotland’s second tier after pipping Falkirk to the League 1 title in dramatic fashion. Ian McCall is a manager who is vastly experienced in this league and has shown he knows what it takes to have a successful season with second-place finishes in his previous stints at both Thistle and former club Ayr United. Thistle have only strengthened this year with the permanent addition of fan’s favourite Scott Tiffoney, added to by former Championship winner Cammy Smith. With veteran Brian Graham in fine form the Jag’s could have a very successful season if they can find consistency within their ranks.

2nd Play-off – Kilmarnock

Key signing – Daniel Armstrong, midfielder (Raith Rovers)

Last season – Relegated Premiership

Form – LWDW

Relegated to many’s surprise by Dundee in the Premiership Play-offs, Kilmarnock have opted for a huge turnover with 23 departures and 14 newbies. As we all know experience is key and with the addition of Championship winners Jason Naismith, Stephen McGinn and Fraser Murray the Rugby Park side have recruited healthily this term as they intend to get back to where they belong after being relegated for the first time in 28 years.

Kevin O'Hara celebrates his brace in a 4-1 win over Stenhousemuir. Credit - Dunfermline Football Club

1st Champions – Dunfermline Athletic

Key signing –  Nikolay Todorov, forward (Inverness Caledonian Thistle)

Last season – 4th

Form – WLWW

The Pars will be keen to continue their impressive form shown in Pre-season. Dispatching 11 goals in four games is a strong indication that Peter Grant’s side are set to further their plaudits of last season. A strong transfer window including the additions of Graham Dorrans, Kai Kennedy and Todorov with the latter notching three goals in his first four has put the Pars in an early driving seat for this seasons League title predictions, battling with relegated Kilmarnock.

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