PFA Scotland to name first non-Old Firm Player of the Year since 1990

Niall McGinn, Aberdeen, February 2013.
Aberdeen's Niall McGinn is one of the four contenders for this season's PFA Scotland Player of the Year award.© SNS Group

This season's PFA Scotland Player of the Year award will be won by a player outside of Celtic and Rangers for the first time in 23 years.

Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Leigh Griffiths (Hibernian), Andrew Shinnie (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) and Michael Higdon (Motherwell) are all in contention for the award won by Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew last season.

Aberdeen's Jim Bett was the last player outside of the Glasgow pair to be named as the year's best back in 1990.

Bett was one of just eight players from other clubs to win the award which has been presented 35 times since its inception in 1978.

No player from Hibernian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Motherwell has ever been PFA Scotland's Player of the Year.

The winner of this season's prize, voted for by Scotland's footballers, will be announced at an event on Sunday, May 5.

PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said of the award: "This is the top award for players.

"There is no greater honour in football than to be voted the best player in your country by your fellow professionals."

The nominees

Niall McGinn moved to Aberdeen from Celtic in the summer and made an instant impact at Pittodrie, netting five times in his first 10 appearances.

The Northern Irishman has scored 19 in total from 34 games this campaign and also found the net in his country's shock 1-1 draw in Portugal in World Cup qualifying back in October.

Leigh Griffiths is up for both the Player and Young Player awards as he continued his rich vein of form for Hibernian in his second loan spell for the club.

The Scotland international forward has contributed exactly 50% of his side's SPL goals this season, finding the net 20 times. He is expected to be given another chance at parent side Wolverhampton Wanderers for next season.

Inverness CT's Andrew Shinnie has already secured a pre-contract move to Championship side Birmingham City for next campaign off the back of 11 league goals for his club in a season which has seen them compete for second spot in the SPL.

A former Rangers trainee, the 23-year-old also won his first Scotland cap in the same game Griffiths made his first appearance against Luxembourg in a friendly last November.

Michael Higdon broke Willie Pettigrew's post-war scoring record at Motherwell this season and currently leads the way in the SPL goal charts with 24.

The Englishman is on course to be the first player outside of Celtic and Rangers to finish the year as the leading goalscorer in the top flight since Tommy Coyne finished top in 1995, also while playing for the Steelmen.

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