WLB 2015/16 Preview | What The Scottish Experts Say


WE spoke to five of the finest minds in Scottish football to hear their views on the new season.

Willie Duncan, WLB Scottish Expert (@Willie_Duncan)

Premiership Winner – Celtic (1/33 – all prices from our sponsors Ladbrokes)

Ronny Deila’s men aren’t at their strongest, but they’ll need to fall over in the most dramatic fashion if they are to fail to win the Premiership this term.

Without Celtic – Aberdeen (4/7)

I’d love to think that it’ll be Hearts, but the Dons look to be a cut above the rest. I expect them to finish second with a bit to spare.

Top scorer – Leigh Griffiths (7/2)

The former Hibs front man is likely to be Celtic’s main striker and, therefore, will get more chances than any other striker in the league – and he’s a great finisher. Aberdeen’s Adam Rooney is a decent each-way chance.

To Finish Bottom of the Premiership – Hamilton Accies (4/1)

Accies have been rank rotten since Alex Neil departed for Carrow Road and with their main relegation rivals likely to improve this term, it could be a long, bleak season for the New Douglas Park club.

Championship Winner – Rangers (2/5)

You didn’t really think I’d say Hibs, did you? New found professionalism under Mark Warburton’s stewardship will make all the difference and I expect the Ibrox club to win the second tier at the second time of asking.

To Finish Bottom of the Championship – Dumbarton (9/4)

I think that the Sons will struggle, with Ian Murray having departed for St Mirren and their home form will be the key to survival.

League One Winners – Dunfermline Athletic (3/1)

I really like the look of the Pars under Allan Johnston’s stewardship. They have a far better squad than many in the division and I’m trusting them to make that quality count this term.

To Finish Bottom of League One – Stenhousemuir (7/4)

I just can’t see Stenhousemuir being as bad again this term as they were last season and, for me, that means that Albion Rovers could be heading straight back to League Two come the end of the season.

League Two Winners – Arbroath (5/1)

On Thursday night, I watched Hearts battle their way to a 4-2 win over Arbroath in the League a Cup and I was certainly relieved at the final outcome. Todd Lumsden’s side were left to rue missed chances at Tynecastle but they are decent value to be celebrating the League Two title at the end of the season.

Bottom of League Two – East Stirling (13/8)

East Stirling are always worth a look in this market because they are rarely far away, but this year, I’m expecting Montrose to finish rock bottom of the 42-club pile. They ended up there last term and I can’t see any reason to expect improvement from The Gable Endies this season.

Best Bet Of The Season – Dunfermline Athletic to win League One (3/1)

It’s all about Dunfermline Athletic for me this season. Allan Johnston is a good manager at a club with a squad far stronger than many of their competitors. The Pars can pile up the pounds for punters by winning League One this season. Get involved!

Craig Anderson, SPL Stats (@SPLStats and @craig_killie)

Premiership Winner – Celtic (1/33)

The Scottish Premiership has provided a great deal of excitement over the last three seasons, and the only thing missing has been a proper title race. Aberdeen hung in there for a while last season, but Celtic proved too strong in the end and I expect that to be the case again this time around. Ronny Deila’s side received their fair share of plaudits for their exciting attack last season, but they had an equally impressive defensive record, conceding just 17 goals in their 38 league matches. A sustained European run might cause them to take their eye off the ball domestically, but even accounting for that I expect them to make it five in a row.

Premiership Winner Without Celtic – Aberdeen (4/7)

Derek McInnes’ side were head and shoulders above the other 10 clubs last season, and only their woeful record against Celtic prevented them from putting up a proper challenge. Their impressive victory over Rijeka in the Europa League suggests they will be a force to be reckoned with again this season. The Dons have improved their side over the summer – the addition of the talented and versatile Graeme Shinnie may prove to be the signing of the season. I can see them closing the gap on Celtic from last season, and I expect them to finish well clear of the chasing pack.

Premiership Top Goalscorer – Kris Boyd (14/1)

It seems odd to select a player who performed woefully at a lower level last season, but I think Boyd will thrive on being back “home” at Rugby Park. It was only a year ago that Boyd was nominated for Player of the Year after his 22 goals helped keep Killie in the top flight, and I believe that is a feat he could easily repeat in an attack which will be built around him. With most other teams likely to spread the goals around their attack, Boyd’s single-mindedness in front of goal may see him finish top of the pile.

To Finish Bottom Of The Premiership – Hamilton Accies (4/1)

Accies shocked everyone with their amazing start last season, but they dropped like a stone as soon as Alex Neil departed for Norwich City. Martin Canning doesn’t inspire confidence as a manager, and their squad has seen a fair bit of turnover during the summer with a number of unknown and unproven players arriving. Most of last year’s bottom sides seem to have improved over the summer, so Accies might just be the ones who are left behind.

Championship Winner – Rangers (2/5)

Having stumbled through League 2 and League 1 with a mismatched squad and a clueless manager, Rangers were well and truly shown up by Hearts in last season’s Championship. The arrival of Mark Warburton this season represents a change of direction for the club, and his new look side got off to the best possible start against Hibs in the Challenge Cup. There are still question marks about their defence, but I think Rangers will prove too strong for Hibs and St Mirren.

To Finish Bottom Of The Championship – Alloa Athletic (9/4)

The Wasps have finished 8th and 9th in the last two seasons, and look like the obvious choice to continue their downward trend. Their summer transfer business has not been particularly eye catching and they appear to have the weakest squad in the division. They could yet be saved, however, by the seemingly endless off-field turmoil at Livingston.

League 1 Winner – Dunfermline Athletic (3/1)

The Pars had a dreadful time of it last season, failing to even make the play-offs despite being one of just two completely full-time clubs in the division, but they look like favourites to win the title this year. New manager Allan Johnston tore through this division as Queen of the South boss, and has all the tools to do so again as long as he can quickly put his failure at Kilmarnock behind him.

To Finish Bottom Of League 1 – Albion Rovers (6/4)

Darren Young did an excellent job in leading Rovers to the League 2 title in his debut season, but his side may struggle with the step up. Last season’s relegation battlers Ayr United and Stenhousemuir both seem to have improved their squads, and there is no clear relegation candidate from elsewhere.

League 2 Winner – Queen’s Park (6/1)

I’d be lying if I said I was well-informed about this division, but Queen’s Park were impressive under Gus McPherson last season and were close to promotion via the play-offs. They seem pretty well placed to push on and win the title this time around.

To Finish Bottom Of League 2 – Montrose (13/8)

They narrowly escaped relegation in last season’s play-offs, and I’m not sure I see anything to suggest that they’re going to have improved much this year. Paul Hegarty’s management style may have provided the short, sharp shock needed to keep them up last year, but that may well wear off as the season goes on.

Best Bet Of The Season – Dumbarton to finish in the top half of the Championship (11/1)

I expect Rangers, Hibs, St Mirren and Falkirk to make up the top four in this season’s Championship, but the final spot could be anyone’s. Queen of the South have lost almost an entire team, and may struggle to replicate their form of the last two seasons. The Jim Duffy factor should scupper Morton and Livingston are a permanent off-field shambles. Despite being a part-time club, Dumbarton have signed very well and also secured one of Scotland’s hottest managerial prospects in Stephen Aitken. Raith Rovers may be a more likely prospect for fifth, but if they, as they often do, falter in the middle of the season, then Dumbarton could well spring a surprise, and 11/1 looks like a great price.


Craig Fowler, The Scotsman, Scotland On Sunday & Host Of The Scottish Football Terrace Podcast (@craigfowler86)

Premiership Winner – Celtic (1/33)

Not a lot back for your buck, but you may as well set fire to any money placed on any other team. In another year Aberdeen would have a great chance. They’ve got a great squad and have no real weakness throughout the team. However, Celtic will be improved on last season and it’s hard to imagine Aberdeen being much better.

Premiership Winner Without Celtic – Aberdeen (4/7)

Not great odds seeing as history is against them – only Hearts and Motherwell have finished ‘best of the rest’ in consecutive seasons since the early 90s – however they’re just such a strong unit that it’s hard to imagine anyone bettering them. Other than a terrific starting XI they’ve got incredible strength in depth for a non-Old Firm side. Players like Paul Quinn, Willo Flood, Peter Pawlett and David Goodwillie would walk into 90 per cent of top flight sides and yet they’re not guaranteed starters at Aberdeen. If you want an outside flyer, Dundee at 40/1 represents great value for money. I think they’ll finish fourth this term. So if Aberdeen suffer a collapse they’re a team who could certainly pounce.

Premiership Top Goalscorer – Kane Hemmings (80/1)

The two favourites Leigh Griffiths (4/1) and Nadir Ciftci (8/1) don’t represent great value because they could easily take game time, and therefore goals, off each other. Adam Rooney (10/1), the reigning top scorer, is the next logical choice but Aberdeen preferred his teammate David Goodwillie in the European matches so I’m hesitant to go for that one also. With them out of the way it opens it up to the entire field. I’ve gone for Hemmings because he scored goals for fun two years ago in a dreadful Cowdenbeath side, and if his talents can adjust to the top flight then he’ll easily net into double figures on a Dundee side I think will surprise a few people. The only reason he’s 80/1 is the bookies think he’ll be behind Rory Loy in the pecking order. If Loy fails to adjust or suffers injury (he missed the final three months of last season before the Cup Final) then that 80/1 will suddenly become a cracking price. Worth an each way bet at least.

To Finish Bottom Of The Premiership – Hamilton Accies (4/1)

There could be a lot of parity at the bottom end of the Scottish Premiership this term and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hamilton, Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle or Motherwell finish there, which the bookies have reflected with little variance in price. I’ve got for Hamilton because they’ve got the least top flight experience and they were horrible in the second half of last season after Alex Neil left for Norwich.

Championship Winner – Rangers (2/5)

I’m not writing off Hibs on the back of the Petrofac Cup game. I just think with the whole Scott Allan distraction could really throw them off. It’s too difficult to imagine him staying for the entire season and playing to the same calibre as last term, and that’s what Hibs need to win the league.

To Finish Bottom Of The Championship – Morton (4/1)

Their odds are elevated because they’re a full-time team battling it out with Dumbarton and Alloa, two part-time sides. That didn’t stop them being relegated two years ago, though. And never underestimate Jim Duffy’s capabilities of getting a team relegated.

League 1 Winner – Dunfermline Athletic (3/1)

I still can’t believe they never managed to even make the play-offs last term. Everyone perceived them to have, by far and away, the most talent at the outset and yet they cocked it up royally. Allan Johnston may not have made many friends at Kilmarnock, but he certainly knows how to win the League One crown, demonstrated by Queen of the South obliterating the competition in the 2012/13 campaign.

To Finish Bottom Of League 1 – Stranraer (25/1)

Wow! This is certainly a contender for my favourite bet for this coming season. Stranraer fought for promotion the last two seasons, which is why they’re currently down as the third least likely side to get relegated in the eyes of the bookies. That success, however, was down in a large part to the terrific work of their manager Stephen Aitken who defied the odds twice to lead Stranraer to the play-offs. I’m not saying they will get relegated, but with one of the smallest budgets in the league and without Aitken, who left for Dumbarton, they should be in the dogfight.

League 2 Winner – Queen’s Park (5/1)

I don’t like Clyde as the favourites. The investment they made in the first team will be offset by having a tactically weak manager in Barry Ferguson. With them out of the way it opens it up for another five other teams to win the league. I’ve gone for Queen’s Park because everyone expected them to finish bottom last year and yet they made the play-offs. If Gus McPherson can work similar magic this term they’ll be champions.

To Finish Bottom Of League 2 – East Stirlingshire (13/8)

Two seasons ago The Shire invested in an ultimately fruitless hope of earning promotion. They slid back down last season and expect a further fall this campaign.

Your Best Bet Of The Season – Dundee +43 in Scottish Premiership Handicap (9/1)

As you’ve probably noticed, I expect a big season from Dundee. They seem to have improved while many of the sides who finished above them got weaker and, in Paul Hartley, they have one of the country’s brightest young managers. With handicap bets you’re looking for a side to breach 100 points at the end of the season through a combination of their actual points total and the added handicap. I’ve already stated that I believe Dundee will finish 4th, which based on the points total average of that position over the past three years would net them exactly 100 points.

Colin Paterson, Daily Record, Sunday Mail & Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser (@Colin_Paterson_)

Premiership Winner – Celtic (1/33)

The Hoops have the best players, the biggest squad and the largest budget. It’s not a case of if Ronny Deila’s men will win the title, it is when and by how many points.

Premiership Winner Without Celtic – Aberdeen (4/7)

Derek McInnes has done a great job at Pittodrie and has assembled a squad high on quality. There is also continuity within the group which gives them an edge over teams who have had to rebuild.

Premiership Top Goalscorer – Adam Rooney (8/1)

The Irish striker won the Golden Boot last season – and I fancy him to make it two in a row, particularly if Celtic make the Champions League group stages and rotate their strikers.

To Finish Bottom Of The Premiership – Hamilton Accies (4/1)

There won’t be much in it but Accies have found life difficult since Alex Neil’s departure to Norwich City and are at risk of suffering from ‘second season syndrome’.

Championship Winner – Rangers (2/5)

Gers boss Mark Warburton has brought new ideas and a fresh energy to Ibrox while recruiting hungry young players who will make a big impact.

To Finish Bottom Of The Championship – Alloa Athletic (9/4)

The Wasps stayed up last season via the play-offs but their part-time status and Dumbarton’s excellent work in the transfer market means they have a big task ahead.

League 1 Winner – Dunfermline Athletic (3/1)

The Pars full-time status in a league made up of part-time clubs will be key. Their new management team of Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark won this division comfortably with Queen of the South in 2013. Strong squad which has been bolstered with some nice additions.

To Finish Bottom Of League 1 – Brechin City (6/1)

It’s likely to be a baptism of fire for rookie player/manager Darren Dods. City lost key players this summer and don’t have a lot of strength in depth.

League 2 Winner – Clyde (5/2)

Former Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson has made some tasty signings ahead of his second season in charge at Broadwood and brought in players with promotion and cup-winning experience.

To Finish Bottom Of League 2 – East Stirling (13/8)

I thought Craig Tully did a great job last season with a fairly limited squad but a lack of resources will make it very hard to pull off a similar feat this term.

Your Best Bet Of The Season – Michael Moffat to win League One Golden Boot (6/1)

The 31-year-old striker looks in good shape following pre-season and will be worth his weight in goals after a disappointing first season at East End Park.


Anthony Brown, Scottish Football Writer (@anthonyabrown)

Premiership Winner – Celtic (1/33)

Aberdeen and Hearts might give them a run for their money until the turn of the year, but ultimately Ronny Deila’s men will cruise home with a bit to spare.

Premiership Winner Without Celtic – Aberdeen (4/7)

With Dundee United having been decimated over the last year, Hearts, the big unknown quantity of the division, look the only side who might be able to challenge the Dons for second.

Premiership Top Goalscorer – Leigh Griffiths (7/2)

Assuming he starts his fair share of games, the Celtic striker has to be fancied to build on a strong finish to last season and break the 20-goal mark. New Hearts hitman Juanma Delgado, Kilmarnock’s returning hero Kris Boyd and Dundee United forward Henri Anier are all worthy of each-way interest at decent prices.

Their slump following Alex Neil’s departure last season was alarming, and allied to the feeling that none of their rivals, at this stage, have the look of obvious relegation fodder, this could be a difficult season for Martin Canning and his team.

To Finish Bottom Of The Premiership – Hamilton Accies (4/1)

Their slump following Alex Neil’s departure last season was alarming, and allied to the feeling that none of their rivals, at this stage, have the look of obvious relegation fodder, this could be a difficult season for Martin Canning and his team.

Championship Winner – Rangers (2/5)

The Scott Allan saga has punctured much of Hibs’ early-summer optimism, and although Alan Stubbs’ side can still be expected to put up a decent fight – with or without Allan – Rangers look to have recruited particularly well and have more strength in depth than their rivals.

To Finish Bottom Of The Championship – Morton (4/1)

The newly-promoted side may find it difficult in a league where six of their rivals look like genuine contenders to challenge for top-four spots, and the other three, Livingston, Alloa and Dumbarton, have all displayed in recent seasons that they have the staying power to survive at this level.

League 1 Winner – Dunfermline Athletic (3/1)

After a dire few years for the Pars, there is at last a semblance of optimism about the club again. They have made some eye-catching signings this summer and new manager Allan Johnston knows what is required to win this league after doing so with Queen of the South just a few years ago.

To Finish Bottom Of League 1 – Stenhousemuir (7/4)

A dreadful end to last season, before they scraped survival in the play-offs, doesn’t bode well for Brown Ferguson’s team. Albion Rovers, the market favourites, will come into the league with momentum and optimism that they can continue their fine progress under Darren Young.

League 2 Winner – Queen’s Park (6/1)

In a league that is traditionally hard to pick an ante-post winner from, Annan and Elgin, both of whom will at the very least be in contention for play-off places, shouldn’t be discounted at double-figure prices. It is hard to make a particularly strong case for the three favourites, Clyde, Arbroath and Stirling given their flaky form last term. Queen’s Park, who have made huge strides under Gus MacPherson and just missed out on automatic promotion last season, look the most credible selection at a decent price.

To Finish Bottom Of League 2 – East Stirling (13/8)

Admittedly a lazy selection, based on recent tradition and the probability that Montrose will have had enough of a fright last season not to allow themselves to finish bottom again.

Best Bet Of The Season – Hibs To Win Championship Without Rangers (8/13) & Kilmarnock To Finish Top 6 (7/1)

I’ve gone for two. The first is for the big-hitters: Hibs to win the Championship without Rangers. Regardless of the Scott Allan situation, as long as highly-regarded head coach Alan Stubbs remains at the club for the season, it’s hard to see how this one can fail. Should be a 1/4 shot. The second is Kilmarnock to finish in the top six of the Premiership at a remarkable 7/1. Outwith the big four of Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen and Dundee United, there looks to be another two top-six places up for grabs. Killie manager Gary Locke has performed a significant overhaul of both his playing and backroom staff this summer, and the Rugby Park side look strong enough in all departments to make their presence felt in the top half of a mediocre-looking Premiership. Should be no bigger than 7/2 in this market.


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