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Celtic odds-on to make it a hat-trick of SPL titles

It seems inconceivable that Celtic won’t successfully defend their SPL title this season, but sadly nobody is going to get rich quick on such a foregone conclusion.

Totally predictably, they won in a canter last season, by 16 points from runners-up Motherwell, and the real excitement for Parkhead fans was saved for European nights, most particularly that never-to-be-forgotten evening when they humbled the mighty Barcelona.

But while basically unbackable at 1/50, punters can just take Celtic out of the equation and bet on the top SPL team without them. Motherwell, who also finished placed in 2012, are Coral’s 5/2 favourites to finish second again with Aberdeen, who underachieved in eighth last season, close behind at 11/4.

The loss of the SPL’s top striker. Michael Higdon, will of course be a loss to ‘Well’, but they have a solid squad, augmented by the summer signing of James McFadden, and after finishing seven points and more clear of the rest last season are still probably the team most likely to chase Celtic home.

Ross County (14/1), who enjoyed a most creditable first SPL campaign, ending up in fifth place, could be a surprise packet in this market, having strengthened their squad in the summer months with the promise of another signing or two to come.

They could hardly have been given a more difficult start, however, an away fixture against Celtic on Saturday. Coral make Ross an 8/1 shot to pull off a major surprise – it’s 3/10 the much more likely home win.

Motherwell’s opening encounter is again Hibernian away on Sunday and this is much more difficult to call (23/10 the draw), although the hosts will be licking their wounds after the 7-0 thrashing they took from Malmo in Edinburgh last week.

Hibs are another team to have lost their top striker (Leigh Griffiths), while Celtic don’t have the same firepower now either, following the selling of top scorer Gary Hooper to Norwich and Victor Wanamaya, one of the scorers against Barcelona, to Southampton. Not at the moment anyway – there’s still time and money to sign up a replacement.

In the meantime, Republic of Ireland striker, Anthony Stokes, still very much part of the Celtic scenery, is 9/4 favourite with Coral to be the SPL’s top goalscorer in 2013-14.

Written by Jon Freeman