The Scottish Football League System is a four-tier football league system consisting of 42 teams. In the top tier, there are 12 teams, the Scottish Premiership and 10 teams in each of the lower three tiers; the Scottish Championship, Scottish League One and Scottish League Two.
The Scottish Football League includes professional and semi-professional football clubs. These are mostly from Scotland. It was founded in 1890. The Scottish Football League represented the top level of football in Scotland until the breakaway Scottish Premier League (SPL) was formed in 1998.
Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL):
It is the national men’s association football league in Scotland. Founded in June 2013, this league merges between the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League. The Scottish Professional Football League has two domestic cup competitions:
- Scottish League Cup
- Scottish Challenge Cup
The Scottish Cup includes all the teams within the Scottish Professional Football League, however; the competition is run by the Scottish Football Association.
This league system is a series of generally unconnected leagues for Scottish football clubs. It is more complicated than many other national league systems. It consists of several completely separate systems of leagues and clubs, with junior football, senior football and beneath these Amateur and Welfare football.
There is one national league in senior football in Scotland. It has four divisions. There are some regional leagues as well. During 2024-15, the regular promotion or relegation between the two regional leagues was introduced.
The current record holders are Rangers that have 54 titles. Some clubs based in England play in the senior Scottish system; Berwick Rangers in the Lowland League and Tweed-mouth Rangers in the East of Scotland League. In Scottish leagues, a small number of English amateur clubs in the lowest levels of the game also compete.
Structure of Football in Scotland:
The structure of football in Scotland is among the most recognizable system in Europe. This league is very unique and has a plurality of adult male governing bodies. Improvement towards creating a pyramid football system began in 2008. In 2013, the Scottish Premier League clubs solidly agreed on the introduction of a pyramid structure to Scottish football along with the reintroduction of a single governing body for all 42 senior clubs.
‘Junior’ here is not the age of the players but the level of football played. There are three junior regions of the Scottish Football Association:
- West Region of 63 clubs
- East Region of 38 clubs
- North Region of 32 clubs
It is one of the national sports of Scotland as well as the most popular sport in the country. A long tradition of football is present in Scotland. Scotland has the second oldest national Football Association in the world that was founded in 1873.
Highland Football League:
It is a league of 18 clubs covering and covers the north, northeast and North West of Scotland.
Lowland Football League:
This league is a league of 16 clubs operating in the Scottish Lowlands.
In Scotland, there are a vast number of amateur footballers. These footballers play in leagues across the country of varying standards, usually confined to a specific localized geographic area. A lot of amateur clubs run teams in more than one of the amateur leagues. Some of the leagues are well known with a history of success and producing players who go on to a higher level. Club activities at the amateur level are coordinated by the Scottish Amateur Football Association.
The Scottish Cup:
This cup is the world’s oldest national cup. It was first contested in 1873. With single matches, it is a pure knockout tournament. All the Scottish Professional Football League clubs automatically enter the tournament. Some non-league clubs used to participate by having qualified through one of two regionalized qualifying cups. They have also qualified automatically for the First Round.
Scotland and Scottish football clubs hold many records for football attendance. Football was played in Scotland in the early 15th century.
The Scottish Challenge Cup:
This cup is open to members of the clubs of the Scottish Professional Football League contesting in the Championship, League One & League Two and the top four clubs in the Highland League and Lowland League, and has been contested since the 1990–91 season.
The Scottish Junior Cup:
All the members of the SFJA contest in the Scottish Junior Cup. It has competed since the 1886-87 season. Currently, 163 teams are eligible to take part.
The Scottish Amateur Cup:
The Scottish Amateur Cup competed for since 1909-10. Currently, around 600 clubs enter. This cup is a nationwide knockout tournament and is supported and organized by the Scottish Amateur Football Association. This cup is contested by hundreds of football clubs every year.
The Scottish Football League First Division:
Between 1975 and 2013, the Scottish Football League First Division was the second tier in the Scottish football league system. This Division was introduced in 1975-76 to replace the old Scottish Football League Division Two because the top flight of the Scottish Football League was renamed from Division One to Premier Division.
The Premier Division clubs broke away from the Scottish Football League in 1998 to form the Scottish Premier League. The second tier of the Scottish league system is the First Division but was now the top tier of the Scottish Football League.
In 2013, the Scottish Football League and Scottish Premier League merged to form the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL). The Scottish Professional Football League named its second tier as the Scottish Championship and this effectively replaced the First Division.