Just days after Porto FC were stripped of their place in the Champions League, CSKA Sofia have suffered the same fate though for different reasons.
CSKA won their 31st Bulgarian league title this season and earned a place in the Champions League’s third qualifying round but could not meet the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) Licensing Commission conditions. The club are deep in debt and owe money to the National Social Security Institute, National Revenue Agency and creditors. In addition to the Champions League ban, CSKA also face the possibility of being banished to the country’s amateur third division.
CSKA rivals Levski Sofia are set to take their place in the qualifying rounds. Levski were the first Bulgarian club to contest the Champions League’s group stage in 2006 and were runners up in the Bulgarian domestic league this past season.
Levski owner Todor Batkov was quoted by FourFourTwo as saying “Morally and from a sporting point of view we’re not ready for the Champions League but we have to consider our situation as we’ll be punished if we refuse to take part. One way or another, Bulgaria has a (Champions League) quota and I think it’s normal to fill the vacancy.”
The Sofia Echo reports that Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev has asked the State Agency for National Security to perform a thorough check into CSKA Sofia’s finances. CSKA’s president Alexander Tomov has already resigned as result of the row and fans have threatened to go out on Sofia’s streets and protest against the government decision and the disorder at their beloved club.