PFC Levski Sofia

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Levski Sofia
PFC Levski Sofia.svg
Full nameProfessional Football Club Levski Sofia
Nickname(s)Сините (The Blues)
Отбора на народа (The Team of the People)
Синята лавина (The Blue Avalanche)
Short nameLEV
Founded24 May 1914;107 years ago (1914-05-24)
Ground Vivacom Arena - Georgi Asparuhov
Capacity25,000
Shareholders Nasko Sirakov (51.6%)
Konstantin Papazov (35%)
Blue Bulgaria Trust (10%)
Minority shareholders (3.4%)
Head coach Todor Simov (de jure)
Zhivko Milanov (de facto)
League First League
2020–21 First League, 8th
Website Club website
Soccerball current event.svg Current season

Levski Sofia (Bulgarian : Левски София) is a Bulgarian professional association football club based in Sofia, which competes in the First League, the top division of the Bulgarian football league system. The club was founded on 24 May 1914 as a football department of Levski Sofia sports club by a group of students, and is named after Vasil Levski, a Bulgarian revolutionary renowned as the national hero of the country.

Contents

Levski has won a total of 73 trophies, including 26 national titles, 25 national cups and 3 supercups, as well as 13 domestic Doubles and 1 Treble. It is also the only Bulgarian football club to have never been relegated from the top division since the establishment of the league system in 1937. [1] Levski has reached the quarter-finals of UEFA competitions for five times, was runner-up of the Balkans Cup twice, and in 2006, it became the first Bulgarian club to enter the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.

The team's regular kit colour is all-blue. Levski's home ground is the Vivacom Arena - Georgi Asparuhov in Sofia, which has a capacity of 25,000 spectators. The club's biggest rivals are CSKA Sofia, and matches between the two capital sides are commonly referred to as the Eternal derby of Bulgaria. Levski is also a regular member of the European Club Association and the European Multisport Club Association. [2] [3]

History

Sport Club Levski (1914–1969)

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First kit (1914–1920)

Sport Club Levski was founded in 1911 by a group of secondary school students in Sofia. [4] The club's name was chosen in honour of the Bulgarian revolutionary Vasil Levski, and the club was officially registered on 24 May 1914.

In 1914, Levski lost its first official match against FC 13 Sofia with the score 2–0. Between 1914 and 1920, football wasn't a popular sport in Bulgaria, and no additional information about the club exists. In the summer of 1921, the Sofia Sports League was established, which united ten clubs from Sofia and marked the beginning of organized football competitions in the city. Levski won the first match in the championship in the 1921–22 season, held on 18 September 1921, against Athletic Sofia with the score of 3–1. The team captured first place in the league in 1923 after a 3–2 win over bitter rivals Slavia Sofia, and successfully defended the title the following season.

The first National Championship was held in 1924 with Levski representing Sofia. The team went on to win the title in 1933, 1937 and 1942, and established itself as the most popular football club in Bulgaria.[ citation needed ] In 1929, Levski became the first semi-professional football club in Bulgaria, after twelve players staged a boycott of the team in demand of financial remuneration and insurance benefits. The same year Levski met its first international opponents, losing to Gallipoli Istanbul 1–0 and winning against Kuban Istanbul 6–0. Between 1930 and 1932, Levski won the Ulpia Serdica Cup for three consecutive years and was permanently awarded the trophy as a result.

Georgi Asparuhov - "Gundi" Georgi Asparuhov 1969.jpg
Georgi Asparuhov – "Gundi"
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Levski kit during a large part of the 1940s–1960s [5]

After World War II, Levski became one of the two top clubs in Bulgaria. After winning the championship in 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1953, Levski would not capture the domestic title again until the mid-1960s. In 1949, the authorities changed the club's name to Dinamo following the Soviet traditions, but after the de-Stalinization of Bulgaria, it was reverted in 1957. The 1960s were marked with return to success both on the domestic and on the international stage. Levski's academy would become the most successful in national youth competitions for the years to come, and the results were first seen in the likes of Georgi Asparuhov, Georgi Sokolov, Biser Mihaylov, Kiril Ivkov, Ivan Vutsov, Stefan Aladzhov and Aleksandar Kostov, assisted by experienced veterans like Stefan Abadzhiev, Dimo Pechenikov and Hristo Iliev, which resulted in winning the championship in 1965, 1968 and 1970, including the 7–2 triumph over new bitter rivals CSKA Sofia in 1968. In the 1965–66 European Cup, Levski was eliminated in the first round by Benfica with 5–4 on aggregate.

Levski-Spartak (1969–1985)

In January 1969, Levski was forcibly merged with Spartak Sofia by the Bulgarian Communist Party, and put under the auspice of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. [6] The name of the club was once again changed, this time to Levski-Spartak.

A new crop of youngsters in the likes of Kiril Milanov, Dobromir Zhechev, Pavel Panov, Yordan Yordanov, Stefan Staykov, Tomas Lafchis, Todor Barzov, Voyn Voynov, Georgi Tsvetkov, Plamen Nikolov, and Rusi Gochev not only found their place in the first team, but brought new league titles in 1974, 1977, 1979, 1984 and 1985. On the international stage, the team reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1969–70 and 1976–77, and the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1975–76. In the latter, Levski defeated Barcelona 5–4 in the second leg, becoming one of the two European teams (the other being Bayern Munich) to have scored five or more goals in one match against Barcelona in official UEFA competitions. [7] Additionally, Levski became the only Bulgarian club to eliminate a German champion after defeating VfB Stuttgart in the first round of the 1984–85 European Cup. They also eliminated Stuttgart a year earlier in the first round of the 1983–84 UEFA Cup.

Vitosha Sofia (1985–1989)

The name of the team was changed to Vitosha by the authorities following the disruptions during and after the Bulgarian Cup final in 1985. [8] The game ran on high emotions fuelled by the streak of consecutive victories of Levski over CSKA in the two years prior to the game. During the game, which CSKA won 2–1, there were confrontations both on the field and on the stands. [8] By decree of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party, some of the leading players of both clubs were suspended from the sport for life. [8] The championship title of the club for 1985 was suspended. However, the suspensions were lifted shortly after. [8] Levski won another cup and league titles in 1986 and 1988, respectively. The fourth European quarter-final came in 1986–87, when Levski knocked out the 1985–86 Danish Cup winners Boldklubben 1903 and the 1985–86 Yugoslav Cup holders Velež Mostar, before losing to the 1985–86 Copa del Rey winners Real Zaragoza.

Levski Sofia (1989–2009)

After the 1989–90 season, the club regained its original name. The team was made up of players such as Plamen Nikolov, Petar Hubchev, Tsanko Tsvetanov, Emil Kremenliev, Zlatko Yankov, Georgi Slavchev, Ilian Iliev, Daniel Borimirov, Stanimir Stoilov, Velko Yotov, Plamen Getov, Nikolay Todorov and Nasko Sirakov, and won three consecutive domestic national championships in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Levski contributed seven players (Tsvetanov, Kremenliev, Yankov, Sirakov, Nikolov, Petar Aleksandrov and Borimirov), more than any other Bulgarian team, to the Bulgaria national football team that finished in fourth place at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

In 2005–06, Levski reached the quarter-finals of the 2005–06 UEFA Cup after knocking out the 2004–05 Coupe de France winners Auxerre in the first round, finishing above SC Heerenveen, Dinamo București and the reigning title holders CSKA Moscow in the group stage, triumphing over Champions League participants Artmedia Bratislava and Udinese in the knockout stages, before being eliminated by Schalke 04.

Levski against Werder Bremen at the National Stadium in the Champions League Levski Werder2.jpg
Levski against Werder Bremen at the National Stadium in the Champions League

Levski, as the champions of Bulgaria, started their 2006–07 UEFA Champions League participation in the second qualiftying round, where they eliminated Georgian champions Sioni Bolnisi, defeating them 2–0 both home and away. In the third round, Levski faced Italian team Chievo Verona, which took part in the tournament because of other clubs' sanctions as part of the 2006 Serie A matchfixing scandal. Levski eliminated Chievo after a decisive 2–0 win in Sofia and a 2–2 draw in Verona, and thus became the first Bulgarian club to ever reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. [9] There, they faced the title holders Barcelona, Premier League champions Chelsea, and Werder Bremen. [10] They lost all six games and scored only one goal, in the second round against Chelsea. [8]

Levski earned a place in the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League after the Bulgarian league champions CSKA Sofia failed to obtain a UEFA license. [11] Levski lost to BATE Borisov of Belarus in the third qualifying round.

Levski Sofia (2009–present)

During the 2009–10 season, Levski's team started their European campaign with a 9–0 (on aggregate) win against UE Sant Julià in the second qualifying round of the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League. In the next round, Levski Sofia faced FK Baku, eliminating the team from Azerbaijan with 2–0 on aggregate. In the play-off round, Levski was eliminated by Debrecen with 4–1 on aggregate. As one of the play-off losers, Levski qualified for the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League. In the group stage, Levski faced Villarreal, Lazio and Red Bull Salzburg. Levski achieved only one win and five defeats. Levski took the win against Lazio in Italy, after Hristo Yovov scored the winning goal in the match.

Levski started the 2010–11 season with a match against Dundalk, in a second qualifying round of the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League. Levski won the first match 6–0. [12] In the return leg at Oriel Park, Levski defeated Dundalk 2–0 with two first half goals from Garra Dembélé. In the next round Levski played against Kalmar FF. The first match ended 1–1 in Sweden. In the return leg in Sofia, Levski won 5–2. In between, The Blues defeated their archrival CSKA Sofia in the Eternal derby with 1–0. Their next match in the Europa League saw them play against AIK Fotboll from Stockholm, Sweden. The first match ended in a goalless draw, and after the game, AIK hooligans attacked the Levski players and staff.[ citation needed ] The second match ended in a 2–1 home win for Levski. Goals scored by Daniel Mladenov and Garra Dembélé put Levski in the Europa League group stage. Levski was drawn in Group C, facing Gent, Lille and Sporting CP. The first match was played against Gent at home, which Levski won 3–2 with the winning goal scored by Serginho Greene. With this win, Levski recorded eight consecutive games without a defeat in European competitions. After that, Levski lost to Sporting CP with 5–0, followed by another defeat against Lille. In Sofia, Levski played well against Lille and was leading 2–1 until Ivo Ivanov scored an own goal to make it 2–2. In the last match of the Group C, Levski took a win against Sporting CP with 1–0, with the winning goal scored by Daniel Mladenov.

Levski Sofia ultras during a derby match against CSKA Sofia Football ultras.jpg
Levski Sofia ultras during a derby match against CSKA Sofia

In the following 2011–12 season, in the third qualifying round of the Europa League, Levski were eliminated by Spartak Trnava of Slovakia, following a late game 2–1 win in Sofia, and a loss of the same scoreline in Trnava. The penalty shoot-out costed Levski a place in the play-off round. This caused an upset with the fans and players,[ citation needed ] and the team barely clinched the fourth place at the winter break in the Bulgarian league. Albeit only three points from the leaders Ludogoretz Razgrad, the acting manager Georgi Ivanov was sacked from the position, but remained at the club as a sporting director. Nikolay Kostov was appointed the new manager of the club, giving the supporters a sense of optimism, which, however, faded after a cup knock-out in the hands of Lokomotiv Plovdiv and a home defeat to Minyor Pernik. Kostov handed in his resignation, leaving the managerial post once again vacant. Sporting director Georgi Ivanov once again stepped in to help the club, and accepted being the manager until the summer break, when a new one would be appointed.

During the summer of 2012, former player Ilian Iliev was appointed the new manager of the club. Under his management, Levski was knocked out from the Europa League by Bosnian side FK Sarajevo. Iliev led the team to 13 league victories and to the semi-finals of the Bulgarian Cup after eliminating Cherno More Varna and Litex Lovech on the away goals rule. Iliev however was sacked after a 1–1 away draw against Pirin Gotse Delchev. Assistant manager Nikolay Mitov took over the team until the end of the season. Under his management Levski won the derby clashes against Litex, CSKA and Ludogorets but failed to win the title after a 1–1 home draw against Slavia Sofia. Levski also reached their first Bulgarian Cup final since 2007, but lost on penalties against Beroe Stara Zagora. Despite the missed opportunity of winning a trophy, Mitov's contract was renewed for the 2013–14 season. However, the team made another disappointing performance in Europa League, being eliminated by the Kazakh side Irtysh Pavlodar. As a result, Nikolay Mitov resigned as manager.

In July 2013 Slaviša Jokanović was appointed as the new manager of the team. Despite losing only two matches in twelve games, Jokanović was released in October 2013. Ivaylo Petev was announced as his successor but during his introduction a few Levski supporters interrupted it, stating that they would not accept his appointment. [13] The next day, Petev refused to take charge of the team and Antoni Zdravkov was named as the new manager. Under his reign the team suffered a heavy 3–0 loss against rivals CSKA, but managed to knock them out in the Bulgarian Cup in December 2013 after penalties. Due to the difficult financial situation, a few key players, such as Antonio Vutov and Garry Rodrigues, were sold to Udinese and Elche, respectively, during the winter break. This reflected on the team's performance and Levski finished fifth and got knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Bulgarian Cup by Botev Plovdiv. Antoni Zdravkov was sacked in March 2014, and Levski legend Elin Topuzakov took charge as a caretaker until the end of the 2013–14 season. For the first time since 1990–91 the club did not participate in European competitions.

On 23 May 2014, the club supporters organized a friendly game against Lazio, marking the 100th anniversary of the club. Club icons like Georgi Ivanov, Dimitar Ivankov, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Hristo Yovov, Elin Topuzakov and many other former players and celebrities took participation by playing in the game, as well as donating money for the event's organization. [14] The next day, Levski marked 100 years since its founding. [15] As of 2020, the results from a decade of incompetent management have finally come out, putting the club in a financial crisis and on the verge of bankruptcy.[ citation needed ] In the summer of 2020, club legend Nasko Sirakov took charge of the majority of shares and the club made some financial cuts, forcing a big part of the players (mainly foreigners) to leave. Levski also changed its transfer policy, signing mainly Bulgarian and homegrown players with lower salaries, allowing the club to start paying off some of the debt accumulated throughout the years. Sirakov set a target for the club to clear most of the debt by 2023, mostly through sponsorship deals, outgoing transfers, television rights and the fans' financial support. [16]

Honours

TypeCompetitionAchievementSeasons
Domestic Bulgarian First League [17] 26 titles 1933, 1937, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948–49, 1950, 1953, 1964–65, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1987–88, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2008–09
Bulgarian Cup [18] 25 titles (record) 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1957, 1958–59, 1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1993–94, 1997–98, 1999–2000, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2006–07
Sofia Championship [19] 11 titles (record)1922–23, 1923–24, 1924–25, 1928–29, 1932–33, 1936–37, 1941–42, 1942–43, 1944–45, 1945–46, 1947–48
Cup of Bulgaria [20] 1 title 1981–82 [lower-alpha 1]
Cup of the Soviet Army [21] 3 titles1983–84, 1986–87, 1987–88
Ulpia Serdika Cup [22] 4 titles
(record)
1926, 1930, 1931, 1932
Bulgarian Supercup [23] 3 titles 2005, 2007, 2009
International UEFA Europa League [lower-alpha 2] 2 times
Quarter-finals
1975–76, 2005–06
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 3 times
Quarter-finals
1969–70, 1976–77, 1986–87
Balkans Cup [24] 2 times Runners-up 1960–61, 1961–63
Doubles The Double [18] [25] 13 times (record)1942, 1946, 1947, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1969–70, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1983–84, 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2001–02, 2006–07
Trebles The Treble [18] [25] [26] 1 time1983–84 [lower-alpha 3]
  1. Unofficial tournament
  2. Known as the UEFA Cup before 2009
  3. Bulgarian A Professional Football Group, Bulgarian Cup, and Cup of the Soviet Army

European record

As of the 2019–20 season.

Competition S P W D L GF GA GD
UEFA Champions League / European Cup 15581514297482– 8
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup / European Cup Winners' Cup 1136145177055+ 15
UEFA Europa League / UEFA Cup 26112412546144150– 6
UEFA Intertoto Cup 162221211+ 1
Balkans Cup 3238873524+ 11
Mitropa Cup 1210115– 4
Intertoto Cup Ernst Thommen 14301125+ 7
Total582418454103348332+ 16

Recent seasons

League positions

First Professional Football LeagueBulgarian A Football GroupPFC Levski Sofia
SeasonPositionGWDLGSGAP Bulgarian Cup Bulgarian Super Cup UEFA Champions League UEFA Europa League
2010–11 2302334672472Quarter-finalsDid not participateDid not participateGroup stage
2011–12 3302028612862Quarter-finalsDid not participateDid not participateThird qualifying round
2012–13 2302253592071Runners-upDid not participateDid not participateSecond qualifying round
2013–14 53819514593962Quarter-finalsDid not participateDid not participateFirst qualifying round
2014–15 73217510663356Runners-upDid not participateDid not participateDid not participate
2015–16 2321688361856Quarter-finalsDid not participateDid not participateDid not participate
2016–17 3361899503163Round of 16Did not participateDid not participateSecond qualifying round
2017–18 33618108552764Runners-upDid not participateDid not participateSecond qualifying round
2018–19 33620610643766Round of 16Did not participateDid not participateFirst qualifying round
2019–20 4311588503053Semi-finalsDid not participateDid not participateSecond qualifying round
2020–21 83211813343241Quarter-finalsDid not participateDid not participateDid not participate
2021–22 Did not participateDid not participateDid not participate
Key

Club symbols

Names and crests

Vasil Levski, club's patron Vasil Levski 01.jpg
Vasil Levski, club's patron
First emblem of the club (1914-1934) Levski sofia 1914-1934.JPG
First emblem of the club (1914–1934)

The first club crest was designed by Mincho Kachulev in 1922. Initially in the size of a square with a blue background, it was intentionally written in a stylized letter "Л" (Bulgarian letter "L"; shortened for Levski). The inner space of the letter was filled vertically equally in yellow and red colours. In a later period of time, the Cyrillic letters "С" (Sport) and "К" (club) were added at the top of the square, while the bottom side was inscribed with the name "Sofia". This badge was used by the club until 1949, when it was renamed to Dinamo.

From 1949 to 1956, the emblem of the club was an irregular hexagon filled with vertical red, white, blue and yellow colours, with an inscribed handwritten Cyrillic letter "Д", alongside a five-pointed red star above it and the word "Sofia" underneath. From 1957 to 1968 the original logo of the club was restored, however the letters C" and "К" were replaced with "Ф" (Athletic) and "Д" (union).

After the merger with Spartak Sofia in 1969, the club crest has been a shield in blue and white with a horizontal red bar above. The shield spawned the letters "Л" and "C", an abbreviation of the new name Levski-Spartak. The football club used this crest until 1985, when it was renamed Vitosha. Vitosha's crest was in the form of a stylized letter "C" surrounding the football in the upper curve of the letter, coloured in blue and white.

In January 1990, the club restored its original name and original logo, and the letters "C" and "K" in the upper corner of the blue square were replaced with the initials "Ф" (football) and "K" (club). However, due to legal issues with the ownership of the rights to the historic crest, the club was forced to change it in 1998, when a brand new shield logo was introduced, entirely in blue. At its centre, an inscription of the letter "Л" was introduced, alongside the year of establishment – 1914. The dome of the shield was labelled "PFC Levski".

After winning the legal dispute for the rights to the historic emblem in 2006, the club decided to use the two different logos simultaneously for a brief period of time. Later that year, the shield crest was completely removed and the classic square emblem has been used since.

Players

First team

As of 2 August 2021 [27] Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No.Pos.NationPlayer
4 DF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Ivan Goranov (on loan from Charleroi)
5 DF Flag of Cyprus.svg  CYP Christos Shelis
6 DF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Ivaylo Naydenov
7 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Georgi Milanov
8 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Simeon Slavchev
10 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Borislav Tsonev
11 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Zdravko Dimitrov
13 GK Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Nikolay Mihaylov (captain)
17 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Antoan Stoyanov
19 FW Flag of Morocco.svg  MAR Bilal Bari
21 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Radoslav Tsonev (vice-captain)
22 DF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Patrick-Gabriel Galchev
No.Pos.NationPlayer
23 DF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Hristofor Hubchev
27 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Asen Mitkov
33 DF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Denis Dinev
41 DF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Georgi Aleksandrov
66 GK Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Plamen Andreev
77 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Nikolay Arahangelov
79 FW Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Martin D. Petkov
86 FW Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Valeri Bojinov
88 FW Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Marin Petkov
89 MF Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Andrian Kraev
99 GK Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Yoan Zagorov

For recent transfers, see Transfers summer 2021.

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No.Pos.NationPlayer
GK Flag of Bulgaria.svg  BUL Ivan Andonov(at Fiorentina Primavera until 30 June 2022)

Foreign players

Up to five non-EU nationals can be registered and given a squad number for the first team in the Bulgarian First League; however, only three can be used during a match day. Those non-EU nationals with European ancestry can claim citizenship from the nation their ancestors came from. If a player does not have European ancestry he can claim Bulgarian citizenship after playing in Bulgaria for five years.

EU Nationals

EU Nationals (Dual citizenship)

Note: For a complete list of Levski Sofia players, see Category:PFC Levski Sofia players.

Club officials

Board of Directors

Youth academy

Levski's youth academy has developed some of the most successful Bulgarian footballers. Notable academy graduates are Georgi Asparuhov, Nasko Sirakov, Bozhidar Iskrenov, Borislav Mikhailov, Emil Spasov, Nikolay Iliev, Hristo Yovov, Dimitar Ivankov and many others. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup in which Bulgaria reached the semi-finals, the Bulgarian squad included four players which came through Levski's youth system, making it the most represented club in the Bulgarian squad. In 2020, Levski was included in the CIES Football Observatory annual rankings, which ranks the clubs that trained the most players active in 31 top divisions of UEFA member associations. In these countries there were 33 footballers from Levski's youth academy, and Levski was ranked 35th in Europe. [30]

Stadium

Gerena StadionGeorgiAsparuhov01.jpg
Gerena

Initially, the club did not possess a field of its own and training was held on an empty space called The Hillock (Могилката/Mogilkata), where the National Palace of Culture was built later. In 1924, the Sofia Municipality provided the club with the rights to an empty field on what were then the outskirts of the city, and a decade later the stadium named Levski Field was finally completed. It provided for 10,000 spectators and was regarded as the finest sport facility in the city.

In 1949, the stadium was nationalized and later the Vasil Levski National Stadium was built on the site. The team played in various locations (including the nearby Yunak Stadium) before moving to the "Dinamo" ground, which was located at the site of the modern Spartak swimming complex. In 1961 after districting the team moved to "Suhata Reka" neighborhood. There a new stadium was completed in 1963, renamed in 1990 in honour of Levski's most beloved former player Georgi Asparuhov.

In 1999, the stadium emerged from serious reconstruction for 29,000 spectators. The field measures 105 x 68 metres. However, the team plays most of its important games versus foreign teams on the national stadium "Vasil Levski". On one occasion the former club president Todor Batkov had demanded that Levski should receive "Rakovski" stadium on loan. The demand was on grounds that the first club stadium was nationalized and Levski had never been repaid.

In October 2012, it was announced that Levski is rebuilding its stadium. The first phase of the planned reconstruction was to be completed in 2014, on the centennial of the club's foundation. As of 2013, the capacity was reduced to 19,000 due to the undergoing reconstruction of the main stand. On 5 July 2013, the first step was made in the construction of the main stand, which has a capacity of 6000 spectators and meets all the requirements of UEFA for the convenience of fans. Contractor of the "blue" building is the leading Bulgarian company in the construction of road infrastructure and other important rehabilitation projects, “Avtomagistrali – Tcherno more” AD. The stadium's main stand was officially opened on 23 April 2016 at a special ceremony. Since 2019, the Museum of Glory of Levski Sofia is also located at the stadium.

Supporters

Sector B Levski Werder1.jpg
Sector B

Historically, Levski Sofia fans gathered in the south stand of the stadium. This tradition is believed to have its roots in the Sofia Derby when Levski fans met before the games at the area close to the south end of the Vasil Levski National Stadium. Due to the orientation of the stadium and the naming conventions of stands at most Bulgarian stadiums, Sector B became synonymous with Levski fans. More recently the fans in Sector B are seen as part of the Ultras movement popular in the Balkans. Today Sector B initiates most of the songs, choreography and pyrotechnic displays at Levski games. Levski supporters are organized by fanclubs, most notably the National Supporters Club which helps and coordinates fans from all around Bulgaria and supports the organization of events. There are also notable groups from Sofia (Sofia-West, South Division, Blue Junta, HD Boys, LSL and many more) and other cities across Bulgaria and around the World (such as Ultra Varna, Blue Huns Pernik, OCB Veliko Tarnovo, Torcida Kyustendil, Ultras Vidin, Iron Pazardzhik, Youth Brigade 034 Pazardzik, Blue Warriors Plovdiv, Blue Boys Blagoevgrad, Blue Lads Sliven, Vandals Pleven, Levski Club Dobrich, Ultras Radomir, Ultras Burgas, Levski 1914 Karlovo, Yambol Boys, Levski UK, Levski Chicago and many more) Ultras Levski have a very strong long-standing friendship with SS Lazio fans. According to a study performed for UEFA, Levski is the most popular Bulgarian club and share the sixth position in Europe with Juventus, by percentage of support in its own country (31%). [31]

UEFA & IFFHS rankings

Shirt sponsors and manufacturers

Player records

Statistic is correct as of matches played 26 June 2016.

Managerial history and notable players

Managers

Notable Bulgarian players

Players with at least one appearance for the Bulgarian national team.

Notable foreign players

Foreign players with at least 30 games for the club or that were internationally capped. Players who were internationally capped for their country are listed in bold.

Bulgarian Footballer of the Year

Kiril Ivkov, the 1968 Summer Olympics football tournament finalist Kiril Ivkov.jpg
Kiril Ivkov, the 1968 Summer Olympics football tournament finalist

A Group top goalscorers

Nasko Sirakov, Levski's all-time top goalscorer with 206 goals Nasko sirakov.jpg
Nasko Sirakov, Levski's all-time top goalscorer with 206 goals

See also

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Georgi Ivanov (footballer, born 1976) Bulgarian footballer

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Stadion Georgi Asparuhov, currently known as Stadion Vivacom Arena - Georgi Asparuhov, due to sponsorship, nicknamed Gerena, is a multi-purpose stadium situated in the Suhata reka neighbourhood of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Named after the best Bulgarian footballer of the 20th century Georgi Asparuhov, it has been the home ground of Bulgarian association football club Levski Sofia since its opening in 1963.

Nasko Sirakov Bulgarian footballer

Nasko Petkov Sirakov is a Bulgarian retired professional footballer who played mainly as a striker. He is the major shareholder of Levski Sofia.

Georgi Iliev (footballer, born 1981) Bulgarian footballer

Georgi Iliev is a Bulgarian former professional footballer who played as a midfielder from 2000 to 2019, notably for Cherno More Varna, where he made over 350 appearances for the club in all competitions. Iliev is the second highest scorer for Cherno More in the Bulgarian top league with 71 goals.

Georgi Apostolov Sokolov was a Bulgarian international footballer. A forward with remarkable ball control, imagination, dribbling skills and feints, Sokolov is regarded as one of the most talented Bulgarian footballers of all time. His father was the great Bulgarian goalkeeper Apostol Sokolov who was known as the first one to leave the goal line like modern keepers and was an inspiration for Lev Yashin.

Eternal derby of Bulgarian football

The Eternal derby of Bulgarian football or simply The Eternal derby is the name of the local derby football match between the two most popular and successful football clubs in Sofia and Bulgaria: Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia. The dominant forces in Bulgarian football have won 26 and 31 national championship titles and 25 and 20 Bulgarian Cup titles, involved into 13 and 11 Doubles, respectively. The rivalry was chosen by COPA90 as the 2nd Maddest Derby in Eastern Europe.

The 2000–01 A Group was the 53rd season of the A Football Group, the top Bulgarian professional league for association football clubs, since its establishment in 1948.

Roman Procházka Slovak footballer

Roman Procházka, born 14 March 1989) is a Slovak footballer who plays for Spartak Trnava as a midfielder.

Georgi Milanov (footballer) Bulgarian footballer

Georgi Milanov is a Bulgarian professional footballer who plays for Bulgarian First League club Levski Sofia and the Bulgarian national team as a central midfielder. His twin brother Iliya Milanov plays as a defender.

Antonio Vutov Bulgarian footballer

Antonio Vutov is a Bulgarian professional footballer who plays for Hungarian club Mezőkövesdi SE as an attacking midfielder, forward or winger.

Nikolay Mitov Bulgarian footballer and manager

Nikolay Angelov Mitov is a Bulgarian former footballer and a manager of Hebar Pazardzhik.

Levski Sofia entered season 2013–14 as runners-up in the Bulgarian A Football Group and finalists in the Bulgarian Cup. The Blues will celebrate their 100th anniversary during this season.

Georgi Yomov Bulgarian footballer

Georgi Yomov is a Bulgarian professional footballer who plays as a winger for CSKA Sofia and the Bulgaria national team. He is a grandson of former Levski Sofia footballer Todor Barzov.

The 2016–17 First Professional Football League is the 93rd season of the top division of the Bulgarian football league system, the 68th since a league format was adopted for the national competition of A Group as a top tier of the pyramid and also the inaugural season of the First Professional Football League, which decides the Bulgarian champion. The season is the first with a new league structure and strict financial criteria where 14 clubs play each other home and away, until the league is split up in championship and relegation playoffs. The new league structure, inspired by the ones used by the Belgian First Division A and Danish Superliga, was approved by the Bulgarian Football Union on 6 June 2016. The fixtures were announced on 8 July 2016.

The 2017−18 Bulgarian Cup was the 36th official edition of the Bulgarian annual football knockout tournament. The competition began on 19 September 2017 with the first round and finished with the final on 9 May 2018. Botev Plovdiv were the defending champions, but lost on away goals in the semi-finals to Slavia Sofia. Slavia later won the final on penalties against Levski Sofia, thus acquiring its eight Bulgarian Cup in its history. The club also qualified for the first qualifying round of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League.

References

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Official websites

Fan websites