Monday, August 16, 2010

16 August 1890 - The Second Oldest League In The World

On 16 August 1890, the Scottish Football League kicked off its very first season. It is the world's second-oldest football league, two years younger than England's Football League.

Although the Scottish Football Association had existed since 1873, the teams competed in the Scottish Cup and in irregular matches among themselves. By 1890, interest in Scottish football had increased, so that the growing number of teams needed an ordered schedule. As a result, a group of eleven teams organized the Scottish Football League. The eleven were Abercorn, Cambuslang, Celtic, Cowlairs, Dumbarton, Heart of Midlothian, Rangers, Renton, St. Mirren, Third Lanark, and Vale of Leven. Scotland's oldest club, Queen's Park, were invited join, but declined.

Four matches were played on that opening day: Rangers beat Hearts, 5-2; Celtic lost 1-4 to Renton; Cambuslang crushed Vale of Leven, 8-2; and Dumbarton drew 1-1 with Cowlairs. Renton were expelled during the season for using professional players, but returned to the league the following season. The SFL also deducted four points each from Celtic, Cowlairs, and Third Lanark for fielding professional players.

Rangers and Dumbarton finished that first season tied for first on points. After they drew a playoff match 2-2, the SFL declared them joint champions.


  1. Actually the third oldest after the Northern League which started in 1889.

  2. According to my research, the Northern League was founded in 1891. Can you point me to something that shows an 1889 date?