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Introduction of Goal Average


craigkillie

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I've been doing a bit of research into old league tables over the last while, and I am struggling to find a good source which clearly identifies the evolution of the tie-break rules for the Scottish League.

As far as I can tell this is how it has developed:

1890/91-1920/21: No tiebreaker. Play-off for important positions (title, re-election/relegation), other teams tied for position.

1921/22-1970/71: Goal average.

1971/72-present: Goal difference.

There have obviously been some other minor changes in between (for example the SPFL now uses head-to-head as a final tie-breaker, which wasn't the case in the SPL or SFL).

I wondered if anyone had a source which confirmed this - particularly the introduction of goal average in 1921/22. Wikipedia suggests that in fact goal difference was used in 1921/22, before goal average was adopted the following year, but I believe that this is an error since every other source (including this BBC article) suggests that goal average was brought in for 1921/22. However, I was looking at the Glasgow Herald from the penultimate week of this season, and it mentions the possibility of a play-off if Celtic and Rangers ended up tied for points at the top (which didn't eventually happen).

Edited by craigkillie
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7 hours ago, craigkillie said:

However, I was looking at the Glasgow Herald from the penultimate week of this season, and it mentions the possibility of a play-off if Celtic and Rangers ended up tied for points at the top (which didn't eventually happen).

Mistake?

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 30th August 1921
It is perhaps not generally known that goal average may mean much at the end of this season in the event of teams tying - were Celtic and Rangers to finish level on points at the top, the club with the better goal average would be declared champions.

Fife Free Press - Saturday 24th September 1921
Alloa dropped a point in the Second Division and Cowdenbeath were victorious over Bathgate putting the Fife team at the top of the table on goal average.

Perthshire Advertiser - Saturday 26th November 1921
In the all-important art of goal-getting the Saints forwards have still to come a bit. Goal average may yet settle relegation or promotion.

Aberdeen Press & Journal - Monday 23rd January 1922
Rangers, who since the beginning of the season have held an undisputed lead in the Scottish League, have now given place to Celtic who on goal average are entitled to the premier place although they are equal on points with their Ibrox rivals.

Dundee Courier - Monday 1st May 1922
Andy M'Atee's late goal at Greenock gave Celtic a point and the Scottish League championship. It was a close call, for Rangers missed many chances in effecting a draw at Shawfield. Had they finished level, goal average would have given Rangers the title.


etc. etc.


Also the Encyclopaedia of Scottish Football concurs with you about Goal Average starting in 1921-22 and Goal Difference in 1971-72.

It would have been established in 1921-22 because promotion and relegation began for the first time that season, as part of the deal to absorb the Central League.


"Cup goal average" was used during WWII to avoid replays.

Incidentally - until a few years ago the Highland League used Goal Difference but not Goals For, courtesy a drafting error.

Edited by HibeeJibee
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I can't help at all with the fixture list question, but I can offer an educated guess for the second. Up until 1979/80, it was very rare for every top flight match to be played on the final day of the season - it had only happened 4 times in just under a century of league football up to and including that season. From 1980/81 onwards, there has only been a single season where every club did not finish simultaneously - that came in 1986/87 when Dundee United had a huge fixture backlog due to their UEFA cup run and had to play their last league fixture on the Monday after everyone else had finished on the Saturday.

There is a roughly similar pattern in the second and third tiers, which suggests that an SFL-wide rule (or unwritten rule) was likely introduced around 1980. I don't know for a fact, but given the sudden change in frequency it seems likely.

 

Edited by craigkillie
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Thanks. Until then many teams would have known exactly what they needed to do to finish above others.

For a long time fixtures had to be finished in April - unless a special extension was granted (e.g. after a terrible winter or some emergency). This later became May 15th (IIRC), then May 31st.

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  • 1 month later...

Maybe not the right thread, but Fort William have an average goal difference this season of 6.8, total of 204 after 30 games with 4 to play. 221 goals conceded. Wondering if that's a UK or Scottish record for Senior football? It's definitely a Highland League record.

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EOSL record is -177 set by Peebles Rovers in 1982-83. They conceded 197 and scored 20.

SOSL record is probably -169 set by Dumfries YMCA in 2014-15. The conceded 201 and scored 32.

North Caledonian will never have played enough games in a season to approach 200 mark, IMO.

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  • 3 years later...
On 26/02/2019 at 16:58, craigkillie said:

I've been doing a bit of research into old league tables over the last while, and I am struggling to find a good source which clearly identifies the evolution of the tie-break rules for the Scottish League.

As far as I can tell this is how it has developed:

1890/91-1920/21: No tiebreaker. Play-off for important positions (title, re-election/relegation), other teams tied for position.

1921/22-1970/71: Goal average.

1971/72-present: Goal difference.

There have obviously been some other minor changes in between (for example the SPFL now uses head-to-head as a final tie-breaker, which wasn't the case in the SPL or SFL).

I wondered if anyone had a source which confirmed this - particularly the introduction of goal average in 1921/22. Wikipedia suggests that in fact goal difference was used in 1921/22, before goal average was adopted the following year, but I believe that this is an error since every other source (including this BBC article) suggests that goal average was brought in for 1921/22. However, I was looking at the Glasgow Herald from the penultimate week of this season, and it mentions the possibility of a play-off if Celtic and Rangers ended up tied for points at the top (which didn't eventually happen).

The use of Goal Average was finally agreed to in Scotland at the Scottish League meeting on June 12th 1907:

"That in the event of equality, apart from the championship, the placing of clubs on the table be decided by goal average."

I researched this when developing my app so that I could give league positions accurately per season, but note that I currently have a typo which means its a season out. I will fix this in the next release.

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