Scotsman writers make Celtic-Rangers title prediction, who will finish third, and all SPFL winners and losers

Anticipation is building for the opening weekend of the league season ahead of what promises to be another exciting and unpredictable chapter in Scottish football.

There is all to play for as the four SPFL divisions get underway on Saturday before champions Celtic kick off their Premiership title defence on Sunday.

Our writers have attempted the difficult, nigh impossible task of forecasting what will happen over the course of the next 10 months.

Here are our winners and losers for the season ahead …

ANDREW SMITH

Premiership: Celtic - There could be no more than a whisker between them and Rangers, but it would be obtuse to look beyond the champions when they had added to their squad without taking away to suggest they will be much stronger than for much of last season.

3rd place: Hearts - The same logic applies to the Tynecastle club finishing best of the rest. They were on a different level to all but the Glasgow clubs last season, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t continue to be upwardly mobile in a fashion that makes them untouchable to the chasing pack.

Relegated: St Mirren - All just doesn’t feel right at the Paisley club and the fans’ grumblings over Stephen Robinson following the Betfred Cup exit doesn’t help.

Scotsman writers are split on whether Celtic or Rangers will lift the Scottish Premiership trophy at the end of the impending 2022-23 season. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Championship: Dundee could hold the edge in seeking to rebound from relegation as Kilmarnock just did. Meanwhile Ayr United will struggle to avoid the drop.

League One: Dunfermline are the shortest odds to step straight back up to the Championship for good reason, even if Falkirk will give them a run for their money. At the other end, the sands of time could run out for Peterhead.

League Two: Senior newbies Bonnyrigg Rose have the momentum to make it back-to-back promotion as the downward pressures on Elgin City could prove fatal.

JOEL SKED

Premiership: Celtic - January signings will have settled in further and with a full pre-season under Ange Postecoglou they should improve.

3rd place: Hearts - Were well ahead of their opponents and it is far too big a gap to bridge for the likes of Aberdeen and Hibs. Hearts are a good side.

Relegated: St Johnstone - Something isn't quite right at McDiarmid Park. It is hard to be enthused by their recruitment, while they've lost four key players.

Championship: Dundee to win the league, good manager and a good squad for that level, while Cove Rangers will be relegated as Paul Hartley's exit is a big blow.

League One: Falkirk will finally get back to the Championship because of the John McGlynn factor, while FC Edinburgh will be relegated as the division will be tough.

League Two: Stenhousemuir to win an open fourth tier, while Albion Rovers will finish bottom.

MOIRA GORDON

Premiership: Celtic - Things could change with one or two signings but Celtic have completed some good early business, retaining key men, while Rangers have the tough task of replacing Joe Aribo, in particular.

3rd place: Hearts - Aberdeen will run them close and European football will stretch Robbie Neilson’s men, but they have been pretty astute in the transfer market in recent times and are building from a position of strength.

Relegated: St Mirren - They look weaker than last season and Stephen Robinson has shown little to suggest he can turn things around.

Championship: Dundee could just edge automatic promotion but I suspect Ayr United will struggle again.

League One: Dunfermline to bounce back up but, with John McGlynn at the helm, Falkirk could run them close. Clyde to go down.

League Two: Stenhousemuir’s signing of Craig Bryson could give them the edge. But Albion Rovers look likeliest for the pyramid play-off.

DAVID OLIVER

Premiership: Rangers -Two dynamic attacking teams, but Gers’ home advantage in the post-split Old Firm could have massive sway going into the final days.

3rd place: Dundee United - Have recruited well with Jack Ross at the helm and with Hearts focusing one eye on Europe, could edge them for best of the rest status.

Relegated: St Mirren - The Buddies have struggled since Stephen Robinson took over and the Premier Sports Cup did little to dissuade.

Championship: Ayr's play hasn't translated into the results it warrants and unless it does, they could struggle. Zak Rudden and Dundee should have enough to top the table.

League One: Falkirk have the edge with John McGlynn in the dug-out and Peterhead's time might be up unless they can better FC Edinburgh.

League Two: Following Montrose and Arbroath it could be Forfar's time for some Angus success while Albion Rovers will again be around the bottom.

MATTHEW ELDER

Premiership: Rangers -With their vast strength in depth,it’s hard to see either of the Old Firm dropping points against anyone bar each other. That will make the derbies all-important and with seven new arrivals Gio’s squad now looks better equipped to handle them than last season.

3rd place: Hearts - Will be a much closer run race than last year with Aberdeen and Dundee United sure to mount a stronger push, but the addition of Lawrence Shankland will be key to the Jambos kicking on.

Relegated: St Mirren - The knives are already out for Stephen Robinson and a bad start to the season could be difficult to recover from.

Championship: Expect ambitious Queen’s Park to be a surprise package under Owen Coyle, but hard to see past Dundee for the title after a shrewd managerial appointment. Relegation for Ayr.

League One: John McGlynn will lead a Falkirk rebirth but will have to settle for play-offs as Dunfermline look best placed to win the title. Peterhead are perennial survivors in this division but it looks like time up.

League Two: After an impressive start in the Premier Sports Cup, topping their group, signs are there that this could be Annan’s year, while Albion Rovers seem destined for the pyramid play-off.

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