When was the last time Celtic or Rangers didn’t win the Scottish Premiership?

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When two teams are so incredibly dominant in their domestic leagues it can sometimes be difficult to remember which other champions there have been

The dominion held by Old Firm foes Celtic and Rangers over Scottish football is one of the most dominant in the history of the game.

In 121 seasons of top-flight football in Scotland, the Glasgow giants have come out on top on a combined total of 103 times and the longest run without an Old Firm champion is just three years.

A remarkably small collection of teams share the remaining space on the honour roll, with a handful of pretenders enjoying what could perhaps tentatively be called 'golden eras'.

Celtic are the reigning champions, but both they and Rangers have endured desperately poor starts to their 2018-19 league campaigns.

That fact has opened up the possibility that the Old Firm duopoly may be broken up for the first time in a long time. Goal takes a look at when it last happened.


Who last won the Scottish league before Celtic or Rangers?


Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister and Italy were the best team in the world when a team other than Celtic or Rangers were crowned Scottish champions.

The 1984-85 season saw Aberdeen lift the league title as they finished seven points clear of David Hay's Celtic and 21 points ahead of Jock Wallace's Rangers.

It was Aberdeen's second league triumph in as many seasons and their fourth of all time.

Scottish champions in the 1980s (1979-80 to 1988-1989)

Season Winner Runner-up Third
1979-80 Aberdeen Celtic St Mirren
1980-81 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
1981-82 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
1982-83 Dundee United Celtic Aberdeen
1983-84 Aberdeen Celtic Dundee United
1984-85 ABERDEEN Celtic Dundee United
1985-86 Celtic Hearts Dundee United
1986-87 Rangers Celtic Dundee United
1987-88 Celtic Hearts Rangers
1988-89 Rangers Aberdeen Celtic

Sandy Jardine Hearts Alex Ferguson Aberdeen

A 43-year-old Alex Ferguson was the mastermind behind the Dons' success during that period and he would go on to manage Manchester United not long afterwards, taking the reins at Old Trafford in 1986.

The 1980s were a relatively lean decade for the Old Firm as they failed to secure league honours in four seasons in all, a trend that had not been seen in Scotland since the late 1940s into the 1950s. 

Last 10 Scottish champions (2008-09 to 2017-18)

Season Winner Runner-up Third
2017-18 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
2016-17 Celtic Aberdeen Rangers
2015-16 Celtic Aberdeen Hearts
2014-15 Celtic Aberdeen Inverness CT
2013-14 Celtic Motherwell Aberdeen
2012-13 Celtic Motherwell St Johnstone
2011-12 Celtic Rangers Motherwell
2010-11 Rangers Celtic Hearts
2009-10 Rangers Celtic Dundee United
2008-09 Rangers Celtic Hearts

Since Aberdeen's 1985 triumph though, it has been business as usual, with the Glasgow giants sharing the title between themselves in every subsequent season.

Hearts did finish level on points with Celtic in 1985-86, but lost the title on goal difference, despite leading the division by two points going into the final game.


Who has won the most Scottish Premiership titles?


Rangers league champions 2011

Rangers are the most successful club in the history of Scottish football, with 54 league titles in their expansive trophy cabinet.

Celtic have long been in the shadow of their cross-town rivals, but recent success under managers such as Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers has seen them narrow the gap. The Parkhead side have won the league on 49 occasions, meaning they are just five shy of equalling Rangers.

Outside of the Old Firm, three teams follow, with Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian boasting four league triumphs each. The full breakdown of Scottish champions can be seen in the table below. 

Team Number of titles Last title
Rangers 54* 2010-11
Celtic 49 2017-18
Aberdeen 4 1984-85
Hearts 4 1959-60
Hibernian 4 1951-52
Dumbarton 2* 1891-92
Motherwell 1 1931-32
Kilmarnock 1 1964-65
Dundee 1 1961-62
Dundee United 1 1982-83
Third Lanark 1 1903-04

*Rangers and Dumbarton shared a title in 1891

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From 1989 until 1997 Rangers were the undisputed masters of Scottish football, lifting the league title in nine consecutive seasons. 

However, Celtic re-emerged from the shadow of their rivals at the turn of the millennium, limiting the Gers to just four league triumphs since the 2000-01 campaign.

In recent years, with Rangers being forced to work their way back up the divisions, Celtic have firmly established their dominance, winning the last seven titles in a row.

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