Partick Thistle’s fall from the Premiership as they lost timidly to Livingston in the play-off final means Dundee United now know who they’ll be up against in the Championship next season.
With a major revamp of the squad at Tannadice under way, the big question for Arabs remains who’ll be in the ranks when it all kicks off in August?
What’s already clear is, whoever’s in the Tangerines’ ranks, they will face a tough battle to get out of the second tier at the third time of asking.
While much could depend on the recruitment of the other clubs over the summer, in terms of overall quality of opposition, the 2018/19 Championship could be the best United have faced.
Including them, six involved have been top-flight members in the past 10 years.
We take a run through the other nine second-tier outfits and try to give an indication of what Csaba Laszlo and his players can expect.
Although they finished bottom of the Premiership, the Staggies have already indicated they will spend big in their bid to return there at the first time of asking. Accordingly United old boy Billy McKay’s been handed a new contract and midfielder Iain Vigurs has been brought in from Inverness.
As they fell to Livi, the Jags looked in need of an overhaul. There will be cuts at Firhill, of that there’s no question, but they’ll still be looking to get back up quickly and having finished in the top six of the Premiership a year ago, there’s quality in their squad.
The Pars made the play-offs and were, in truth, unlucky to go out to United in the quarter-finals. Their plans for next season have not been helped by United’s interest in Nicky Clark and Fraser Aird but gaffer Allan Johnson will be intent on putting out another competitive line-up.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Many felt ICT were the best side over the final third of the campaign. John Robertson’s men missed the play-offs by a whisker. Although they’ve lost Vigurs to local rivals County, word from up the A9 is that Robertson will be given funds to strengthen his squad and make them formidable opponents.
Queen of the South
Despite having a useful young manager in Gary Naysmith, the Doonhamers look unlikely to mount a serious promotion challenge. As United can testify, however, what they will be is a very difficult side to beat on their own synthetic surface.
The Greenock men will have a new manager in place for next season with Jim Duffy having been harshly sacked for failing to make the play-offs. Again, it’s difficult to say how they’ll shape up, but a cash injection is expected and whoever’s in charge will have had a bit of money to spend.
After an unexpectedly difficult campaign that saw boss Peter Houston replaced by Paul Hartley, much better is expected of the Bairns. Hartley is building a decent squad and the aim is to return Falkirk to at least a play-off position this campaign.
For the Honest Men the target will be survival. That, of course, was Livi’s aim this season and look what happened to them! A repeat looks unlikely but having been up two years ago, Ian McCall will expect his team to compete better.
Not quite the Brechin of this season and their plastic pitch should see Alloa win some games. The part-timers should be competitive but the promotion hopefuls will feel they must beat them home and away.