Obsession with Celtic goal difference needs to end

By Hamish Carton

October 31, 2019

There seems to be a growing trend of football fans and pundits who are insistent that this year’s Premiership title race is going to go down to goal difference. Celtic and Rangers may have identical points records so far this term, with us top by just a single goal, but the likelihood of that still being the case in May is remote at best.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard demanded his side rattle in more goals in the aftermath of their 4-0 success against Ross County on Wednesday.

“I thought we got sloppy in the last 20 minutes,” he said, as reported by the Daily Star.

(Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“The game’s won but I want the standards to remain the same because goal difference could be important.”

Neil Lennon also mentioned goal difference prior to our win over St. Mirren, but only as a result of a question he’d been asked earlier in the day.

“I’ve been asked do you think it will go to goal difference, and I’m not a clairvoyant,” Lennon said, as reported by the Scotsman.

(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

So the issue is certainly on the minds of pundits, fans and club figures. But are we all in danger of losing the plot?

History tells us goal difference won’t be relevant for Celtic

Since the league started awarding three points for a win, the Scottish top-flight title race has only ever been decided once on goal difference. That was back in the infamous 2002/03 campaign when we missed out on the title by just two goals – despite dismantling Kilmarnock 4-0 on the final day.

In the last 16 years there have been a few other close calls but the respective title winners have always come out on top on points, with goal difference effectively redundant.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Our last eight titles have been won very convincingly with the lowest margin of victory a whopping nine points. That’s been the gap between first and second in each of the last two seasons so it seems a bit of a leap to suggest that it will be zero come the end of this campaign.

We have the ability to be six or seven points clear by the end of the year. We’re ahead of our rivals and have already been to Ibrox as well as Easter Road and Pittodrie – two places they struggled at last year.

But even if we’re level on points as we enter 2020 we shouldn’t be getting worried. The chances of it going right to the wire are very slim.