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GLASGOW, April 6 (AFP)

Scottish champions Celtic defended their Premier League title with five games still left to play after a 5-1 win over Livingston at Parkhead here on Saturday.

Swedish international Henrik Larsson began what would turn out to be a walk in the park for Martin O'Neill's side in the third minute, scoring with an easy poke to begin the Parkhead party celebrations.

Larsson again punished some naive defending from the visitors, adding his second goal inside the first half - but only after fellow forward John Hartson had grabbed some of the limelight with a brace of goals.

Larsson hammered the point home with a third goal in the second half to seal his hat-trick although Livingston scored a consolation goal through Barry Wilson in the 73rd minute.

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A great season, just like last year dominated from Day 1, and for the first time in 20 years they defend their title. Will they win 9 in a row like Rangers? :D
 

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I wonder what odds I'd get on Celtic repeating the Jock Stein-managed Celtic's 9 in a row?

Well done to Celtic, good luck in next year's CL, they'll be needing it, hope Rangers, Livvy & Aberdeen manage to give them a run for their money next year, but I won't be making predictions until all the summer moves are made.
 

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Surely it will be much closer nxt year. Rangers done brill the second half of the season, under Alex MCLeish.
 

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you would think so, but celtic arent on as tight s budget.

rangers are now £60million in debt, compared to celtics £12m. celtic if they qualify for the champions league, and win the scottish cup would be in the clear.

this leaves celtic with a safe sumemr to but palyers who they think can get them to qualify for CL. in all honesty, i can see celtic being stingy again, but spending around £12m and a few bosmans would not be out of the question. celtics squad is getting smaller and smaller.

the injuries celtic had this season were not properly credited in the Championship victory. Valgaeren out a good 3/4 months, sutton missedhalf the season, and we never got him up front with larsson all that often. also lambert missed about 2 months, larsson was out for almost a month, petta mised about 3/4 of the season! its not been all that great as for injuries this year. lubo and boyd look to be retiring, burchill and tebily have been sold..

although mcleish is doing well, celtic have been seriously weakened. rangers selling flo and ferguson, if they CAN! will not guarantee that hey can attract palyers to play for them, as it looks unambitious.

if celtic sign the amount of players as they should to try and make a serious push on europe, of which they are more than capable of, then i dont see why i wont be drinkin to celebrate 3 in a row next year.
 

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Ah the finances of football, there's no way Rangers are £60m in debt but Celtic only £12m. There much closer together.

Celtic totally dominated in MON first season but have rode their luck on a few occasions this year. Rangers could have won both the OF game at Parkhead and were extremely unlucky at Ibrox.

Since Eck has taken over Rangers have one more points than Celtic in this time. It makes no difference but is an interesting fact.

I'll bet anyone that Rangers spend more in the summer than Celtic.
 

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the finances are true, tehy were on the radio, i didnt just make them up.

i wouldnt be suprisedif rangers spend more money, but that will be as they will raise around 20 mill from flo(p) and ferguson.

despite how much mcleish spends, he will still not be a better manager than MON, so celtic will once again triumph!!
 

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Both clubs are in bad state financially, and while Celtic may 'only' be 12 million in debt this is largely due to them having the share issue to pay alot of the debt off - something which they probably cant rely on again

In fact I read somewhere last week that Celtic are now valued on the stockmarket less than the value they could receive if they sold Larssen! (this isn't just Celtic, but all clubs whose value has plummeted recently)
 

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celtic will be in the clear after they sell this seasons season tickets though!!!

that story about larsson is a lot of rubbish though, we'd never get 100million forlarsson even though he may be worth it ;)
 

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Celtic may have left it late on a number of occasions this season but they were worthy winners as their incredible record underlines, they have lost one game in 34, Fantastic.

In fact MON's overall SPL record since his arrival is nothing short of amazing although having failed to get the better of McLeish in the 2 matches they have gone head to head may suggest next season will be closer.

I'm always wary of the injuries argument unless it is undeniable first choice players. I thought Agathe's 2 month absence could have had a bigger effect, Larsson and Lambert are totally credible but as for Petta it only raises the question how will he get back in. Without Vaalgarens injury you dont fully discover if Crainey is up to the job on a regular basis (and in this spell he is capped for Scotland). MON's first choice pick was always Larsson & Sutton but after Hartsons 21 goals it may not be so clear cut. Lubo was a very skillful football player who has claimed a place in the hearts of almost every Celtic fan who saw him but despite MON's desire for him to stay his true value to the team was reflected in the amount of minutes he played (especially in the big games) although you should not forget his late winner against Motherwell.

Rangers used to try the injury card as well where they would name 12 injured players but on close scrutiny only 2 or 3 of them were certain first team picks. Remeber the old firm can spend £6 million on one player - far more than the full season budget of any other team in the SPL.

Jimmy Calderwood - Dunfermline Manager said "It goes against my principles to stick 10 men behind the ball and kick the ball into the corners but I may have to change my positive tactics against Celtic as we are losing four goals a game against them".

Bobby Williamson - Hibernian Manager said "The Celtic support helps them enourmously because it has an effect on referees and linesmen but the bottom line is that Martin has spent millions on a team and that type of quality allows you to dictate games and they are such a good side at passing and holding on to the ball".

Jim Leishman - Livingston said " When going to Parkhead attack is the best form of defence but you must have bottle and you must defend properly and take any chances you get because they are bound to be limited".

Ebbe Skhovdal - Aberdeen Manager said "Martin O'Neill has put together a side which is clearly the physically strongest in Scotland and they really have the power to pressurise teams particluarly at home and they benefit from doing the basics well" this is supported by the OPTA stats which show that 33% of their goals at home have come from set pieces or the scrambles which follow them as opposed to Rangers 13% at Ibrox.

Ultimately what Celtic have done is finish first of the two horses in the race, with the last 18 championships being shared between the Glasgow giants.

Even with the spending power of the old firm now supposedly facing a reality check it will still not provide a competitive league. The record buy outside the old firm is Paul Bernard signed by Aberdeen for £1 million pounds and on saturday despite having accquired the best player in Scotland for £650,000 and having a young player who had been brought through the ranks along with one of the best buys ever (Didier Agathe for £50,000) Celtic still fielded a side which cost in the region of £25.5 Million and that fact is even more relevant when talking about Rangers who have almost bought the league trophy on a number of occasions.

That last bit is just to remind the fans of the big clubs to keep their successes in perspective.
 
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