24 Football Clubs Invited to Participate in Bulgaria's Reformed A GroupSports | April 6, 2016, Wednesday // 13:14| views
A total of 24 football clubs have been invited to participate in the new format of Bulgaria's top football division, the A Group, which is expected to be launched with the start of the new season in the autumn.
This was stated by the president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFS), Borislav Mihaylov, after a meeting with representatives of the football clubs invited for participation in the new format on Tuesday.
Among the invited teams are the ten contestants in the A Group, the fourteen teams competing in the second division B Group and the leaders in the third divisions.
The teams of CSKA and Litex, which have been relegated respectively to the third and second divisions, have also been invited to participate in the reformed A Group.
In order to be able to participate in the new A Group, each club will have to fulfill the necessary requirements and obtain a licence.
Clubs will have until April 30 to submit their documents, with the licence committee of BFS to announce its decision on May 31.
The aim of the new format is to increase the number of participants to sixteen.
In this way, BFS and the clubs are returning to the format which they themselves decided to abandon in 2013.
Back then, they decided to reduce the number of teams from sixteen to fourteen. Their number was reduced further to twelve and finally to ten during the current season.
No amateur team will be allowed to make the jump to professional football, meaning that Lokomotiv Sofia has not been invited.
The only amateur teams, which have been invited for participation, are currently leaders in their respective divisions and will likely win a promotion to B Group at the end of the season.
If these clubs fulfill the criteria, they will be eligible to participate in the A Group.
BFS noted that the licensing for domestic tournaments is much more relaxed than the one for European tournaments.
Another requirement is for all participants to have proper lighting at their stadiums so that they will be able to host matches in the dark.
If the clubs do not have lighting at their home ground, they will have to hire another stadium where they could host evening matches.
There will be also a financial criteria, which most likely will require clubs to provide a bank guarantee of BGN 1.5 M.
These developments come after three of the top teams from the A Group have been relegated to lower divisions in less than a year, which has significantly lowered the quality of the matches and the level of competition offered by the current format.
Last year, the licences of CSKA Sofia and Lokomotiv Sofia to compete in the A Group were revoked due to outstanding debts.
Litex was revoked to the B Group at half-season after its players abandoned a match with Levski.