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  • An Aberdeen player heads a ball in a match against Dumbarton at Pittodire Stadium in Aberdeen
    Aberdeen play Dumbarton at Pittodire Stadium in Aberdeen
  • A view across the stadium of Celtic Park, located in Glasgow, with players lined up on the pitch and fans cheering in the stand
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
  • Two competing players race for ball during a match between Celtic and Hearts at Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Celtic versus Hearts
  • Looking across the pitch of Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, to a stand full of fans. Image courtesy of Rangers Football Club
    Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow. Image courtesy of Rangers Football Club

Scotland has an exciting and vibrant football scene, with talented sportsmen gracing our pitches, colourful characters and lively local rivalries. There’s nothing quite like the buzz you’ll feel on match day as you march alongside hundreds of fans into the stadium, cheer on your team as they strive to win during 90 minutes of animated play, and perhaps even tuck into a piping hot pie and steaming cup of Bovril at halftime. Discover the game that has been loved by Scots for generations.

Scottish football tournaments

Scotland’s top professional teams compete in the Scottish Premiership where 12 clubs play 38 matches, with the top and bottom six split after 33 games. At the end of the season, the bottom club is relegated while the club in 11th place face the Championship play-off winners over two legs.

The other divisions, the Scottish Championship, League One and League Two, consist of 10 clubs playing a total of 36 games over the season. This four-tier system is governed by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).

The historic Scottish Cup, the oldest national trophy in the world, is the other national highlight on the sporting calendar where single games are played in this knockout tournament. All 42 teams in the Scottish Professional Football League compete, and the final is usually held at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park, in Glasgow.

Both competitions are avidly followed by football fans across the country, with the Scottish Premiership generally perceived as being the ultimate prize in Scottish football. Football is very popular across Scotland, with more people here regularly watching domestic football than anywhere else in Europe.

When and where to see league and cup football

Professional football tournaments usually take place between the months of late summer and spring. Teams competing in the major tournaments will play games both home and a way, meaning there are opportunities to witness sporting action at a number of stadiums and pitches across the country. Check out the latest fixtures from the Scottish Football Association or the SPFL.

You can purchase tickets from the websites of a number of football clubs, or buy them on the day directly from the stadium. Quite often tickets for finals or semi-finals are in big demand, so if you’re keen to attend such a game, it’s advisable to book tickets in advance.

Scotland’s National Team

Scotland are the joint oldest national football team in the world, alongside England, who they played in the world's first international football match in 1872. The team has a longstanding rivalry with England, with the two sides playing each other every year from 1872 until 1989. Since then, the teams have only met four times, most recently in August 2013.

Scotland’s national side enters into the two major professional tournaments, the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship, and out with these tournaments there are a number of international friendly games throughout the year, some of which are played in the national stadium, Hampden, in Glasgow.

The national side traditionally plays in strips of dark blue and white, and many of the supporters, collectively known as the Tartan Army, will don these colours when supporting Scotland. The Tartan Army is known throughout international football for their friendly nature and their buoyant vocal support – why not see a Scotland game and stand alongside one of the most welcoming and enthusiastic crowds in sport?

Football stadiums and museums

If you’re keen to get a flavour for Scottish football without taking in a game, why not see Scotland’s most hallowed turf on a stadium tour? At Hampden, you can also visit the Scottish Football Museum, the world’s first international football museum, which is filled with thousands of items of football memorabilia – a must-see for any football fan. Take a tour of the grounds and follow in the footsteps of hundreds of footballers down the players’ tunnel, into the stadium.

Also in Glasgow, discover the home grounds of two world-famous teams and arch rivals, Celtic and Rangers. In the east, lies Celtic Park, where tours run daily, even on Saturday match day. To the west of the city, Ibrox Stadium is home to Rangers Football Club and its main stand, built in 1928 in red brick, is now a listed building. Tours of Ibrox run three days a week.

On Fridays, you can get a tour of Heart of Midlothian F.C.'s homeground, Tynecastle, in Edinburgh. It’s always best to book a tour in advance as tour times may change due to match fixtures.

Why not discover more about the many other home grounds up and down the country, or follow our sporting attractions itinerary?