SPL facelift talk ends eventful year
Change is on the minds of those who run the Scottish Premier League as 2010 draws to a close. Proposals have been put forward for a radical shake-up of the league structure with plans for a ten team top league and second division. If approved it would be the first change in the league structure in ten years.
It was also a year of change for managers in the SPL with only four of its 12 clubs ending the year with the same boss they started with in 2010. One club which have done well to hold on to their man in charge are Rangers, who were crowned champions for the second season in a row in May.
Walter Smith added the title, his ninth as Rangers boss, to the League Cup victory he clinched against St Mirren in March against the backdrop of well-documented financial woes engulfing the club. Smith had looked to be walking away from Ibrox for the second time but was persuaded to stay on for one final year at the helm and was even given some money to spend, splashing out on players for the first time in two years.
But the Gers gaffer said not even businessman's Craig Whyte attempts to buy current chairman David Murray's controlling stake in the club would persuade him to stay on at Ibrox, preferring instead to hand the reigns over to assistant Ally McCoist.
"I wouldn't want to be a Director of Football as it means looking over the shoulder of another manager. I couldn't do that," Smith said. "Never mind if it's Alistair who takes over or anyone else, it wouldn't matter who. I just wouldn't take that position."
After one of their worst ever performances in the UEFA Champions League in 2009 this year's campaign was more successful as they gained credible draws against Manchester United and Valencia to finish in third and claim a spot in the final 32 of the UEFA Europa League.
Change was also on the agenda at rivals Celtic. Following a poor run of results the Hoops finally parted company with Tony Mowbray in February after a humiliating 4-0 thrashing by St Mirren.
First team coach Neil Lennon took over as interim boss and led the club to eight straight league victories, including victory in the final Old Firm match of the season, before being appointed manager on a rolling contract in the summer.
"Jobs like this don't come around very often," the former club captain said of his appointment. "I love the club, I think I can do a job here and I think the players know I can do a job here too."
The only blips on Lennon's copy book so far are the embarrassing Scottish Cup semi-defeat to Ross County and Celtic's early European exit in August.
Hearts parted company with colourful manager Csaba Laszlo in January paving the way for the return of Jim Jefferies to the Tyncastle hotseat. An impressive run of results means Hearts will finish the year in third.
Craig Levein left Dundee United for the Scotland job but his replacement in the dugout, Peter Houston, led the Tannadice side to Scottish Cup victory in May. Despite leading Hibernian to a European spot John Hughes was replaced by Colin Calderwood at Easter Road. Inverness Caledonian Thistle have adapted well to their return to the top division and are unbeaten away from home in over a year.
It has been a year to forget for Aberdeen. Mark McGhee parted company with the Dons in December but not before he led the club to its heaviest ever defeat when they went down 9-0 to Celtic in November. He was replaced by veteran manager Craig Brown and assistant Archie Knox, who left their roles at Motherwell, with the club languishing at the bottom of the league following seven straight defeats.