The controversial top-six/bottom-six split in Scotland’s top flight has meant that Scottish football fans have become strangely familiar with the unusual concept of the sixth-placed team in the table finishing on fewer points than the seventh-placed team.
This season, however, there is a different tabular oddity to try to come to terms with.
Rangers’ administration means that they will not play European football next term, despite occupying second place in the SPL table by a clear eight points from third-placed Motherwell, who will fill the Champions League qualifying berth in their absence.
That is despite Rangers beating Motherwell on all three occasions so far this season and the fact that their eight-point lead has been amassed against the backdrop of a ten-point deduction in February.
In fact, Rangers have won their last eight consecutive games against the Steelmen, scoring an average of almost four goals per game against them in the previous two seasons.
So while Motherwell’s fans may be in the mood for gloating before Saturday’s match, they are unlikely to be so vocal by the end of it.
Motherwell have never beaten Rangers at Ibrox in the SPL – their last win there coming in 1997, two seasons before the new league was inaugurated.
Rangers’ defeat to Celtic last weekend is the only blip on an otherwise flawless few weeks that has seen them pick up five wins in their last six SPL games.
Impressive victories against Dundee United and Hearts have shown that they are still considerably more dangerous than anybody else below them in the SPL, while only a month ago they beat Saturday’s opponents Motherwell 2-1 at Fir Park to underline their recent dominance in the fixture.
On top of all that, Motherwell have never beaten Rangers at Ibrox in the SPL – their last win there coming in 1997, two seasons before the new league was inaugurated.
With all this in mind, the sensible money is all going to be on Rangers in this one.
You will get odds of 3/5 on a home win, or 31/20 for the Gers to triumph by at least two clear goals (Rangers selection in the 0-1 handicap market).
The latter would have paid out on six of the last eight meetings between the sides and would return £63.75 if you successfully staked your free £25 bet for joining bwin.com on this outcome.
Motherwell will be hoping that their qualification for the Champions League will take some of the pressure off them and allow them to reverse one of the worst head-to-head records in Scottish football, but their fans will not be holding their breath.
The Steelmen are 17/4 to cause an upset, while they are 14/5 to escape Ibrox with a point – a feat they last achieved with a 3-3 draw in 2009/10.
Recommended bet: Rangers to win with a 0-1 handicap @ 31/20
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