SPL

Celtic won it on the field – O'Neill doesn't want 'asterisk' next to title triumph

By Sports Desk May 21, 2020

Martin O'Neill insists Celtic earned their ninth successive title in Scotland, even if he disagrees with the decision to end the Premiership season early.

Following consultations with the 12 top-flight clubs, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) brought the 2019-20 campaign to a premature conclusion because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time of the suspension, Celtic were 13 points clear of rivals Rangers, who had a game in hand, and had eight fixtures to complete, with the Bhoys once again being crowned champions on a points-per-game basis.

That resulted in Celtic claiming a record-equalling ninth successive title and O'Neill, who managed the club between 2000 and 2005, believes that achievement should not be diminished.

"They need to be congratulated, it's been a great season for them," he told Stats Perform News.

"They've deserved to win it, absolutely no question about that. Had the season been extended for a couple of weeks, they would have taken the points and got there.

"There's no way that Rangers could have caught them. From that viewpoint [it was] deserved.

"I can understand Rangers wanting to put an asterisk besides things. I'm sure if the shoe was on the other foot, that might be the same case. Obviously to prevent them from winning nine in a row, for a start.

"But there should be no asterisk attached to that at all, absolutely not. Celtic won it on the field and had the games been completed they would have surely gone on to do it. They deserve the credit for that."

He added: "I don't think any asterisk can be attached to Celtic. If they were two or three points clear, I could have understood that but they were so far in front that Rangers couldn't have caught them."

O'Neill had more sympathy for Hearts, who were relegated as a result of the SPFL's decision.

The club have threatened to take legal action over the outcome and while appreciating the complications, O'Neill would rather have seen the season resumed.

"My own personal viewpoint is that I don't think [the league should have been ended]," he added.

"I know there's lots of things that you have to take into consideration. There's lack of money around. For instance, when would you start the season again? When it would it all start up? Therefore you would have to play X number of games before the new season kicks in.

"If that's the only way they're going to do it – by ending the season – then fine, but it's far from satisfactory."

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