Bulgarian A Professional Football Group
|Founded||1924 (as BSFC)
1948 (as A RFG)
|Number of teams||16|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||B Group|
|Domestic cup(s)||Bulgarian Cup
|International cup(s)||Champions League
|Current champions||Ludogorets Razgrad
|Most championships||CSKA Sofia (31)|
|TV partners||TV7, News7
BNT 1, BNT World
|2012-13 A Group|
The Bulgarian A Football Group (Bulgarian: "А" Футболна Група) commonly known as A Group (Bulgarian: А Група) is the top division of the Bulgarian football league system. The league is sponsored by the news television network News7 and therefore is officially known as NEWS7 Football Championship (Bulgarian: Нюз7 Футболно първенство) since 2013. A Group determines the champion of Bulgaria. Contested by sixteen clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the second tier of the Bulgarian football league pyramid - B Group. Seasons run from August to May, each team playing twice against all the other, once home and once away, totalling 240 matches. A Group is now broadcast by TV7, News7, BNT 1 and BNT World. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with some played on Monday evenings. A Group was inaugurated in 1924 as BSFC and it has been played as a league format since 1948. It is administered by the Bulgarian Professional Football League and the Bulgarian Football Union.
A total of 64 clubs have competed in A Group. In the 2012/13 season, Pirin (Gotse Delchev) are competing for their first time in A Group. Since 1948 only 11 teams have been crowned champions of Bulgaria. The two most successful clubs are CSKA Sofia (thirty-one championships) and Levski Sofia (twenty-six championships). The current champions are Ludogorets Razgrad, who won their first championship title in their first A Group season.
The champion of A Group has the right to take part in the UEFA Champions League from the stage allowed by the league's coefficient. The teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in the final standings take part in the UEFA Europa League together with the Bulgarian Cup winner. The last two teams are directly relegated to the B Group. However in the 2012/13 season, four teams will be relegated to the B Group and two will be promoted from the B Group - from the 2013/14 season the league will be contested by 14 teams, 2 teams less than previous seasons. The domestic cup for the league is the Bulgarian Cup. In every season, the teams in A Group start participating in the competition from Round 2 (Round of 32).
A Group members for season 2012/2013 
The following sixteen clubs are competing in A Group during the 2012/13 season.
- Ludogorets (Razgrad) - 2011/12 A Group champions.
- Pirin (Gotse Delchev) - 2011/12 West B Group champions.
- Etar (Veliko Tarnovo) - 2011/12 East B Group champions.
- Botev (Plovdiv) - 2011/12 B Group play-off winners.
- Location of the clubs on Google maps
- Lokomotiv Sofia didn't receive license to play at their Lokomotiv Stadium (Sofia) and for seasons 2010/2011, 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 they will play their home matches at a neutral venues.
Bulgarian State Football Championship 
The first football championship of Bulgaria started in 1924 with a knockout format. An attempt to form a league as the top division of the Bulgarian football league system was made in 1937-1940, when the National Football Division was created. There were 10 teams, each playing twice against all the others, once home and once away. The team that finished first in the table became champions.
A Republican Football Group 
The first season of the A Republican Football Group started in the autumn of 1948. In that season 10 teams participated in the league - Levski, Septemvri, Lokomotiv, Slavia and Spartak from the capital city Sofia, Botev (Varna), Slavia (Plovdiv), Marek Stanke Dimitrov, Benkovski (Vidin) and Luybislav (Burgas). The first football champion of the A Republican Football Group was Levski in 1948/49.
The 1949/50 season in the A Group was not completed. The league was stopped after the first fixture. It was then decided that the championship of Bulgaria would be played in a spring-autumn cycle as in the Soviet Union. In the autumn of 1949, qualification tournaments were played to determine the teams that would play in the next 1950 season. In the next two seasons the number of teams in the league was increased to 12, and for the 1953 season there were 15 teams (the 16th team was the Bulgarian National Football Team). In seasons 1954 and 1955 there were 14 teams in the league, and in seasons 1956 and 1957 there were 10.
In 1958 the championship was again stopped after the spring half-season, as had happened in 1948. New re-organizations were accepted and the league was again going to be played in the autumn-spring format. Despite the fact that the teams had played just 1 match, CDNA was crowned as the champion of Bulgaria.
The frequent changes in the number of teams in A Group continued in the 1960s. In the first two seasons after the reforms in 1958, the number of teams in the league was 12, in the period 1960-1962 - 14, until season 1967/68, when the teams were 16.
There were new reforms at the end of the 1960s. There were many mergers between Bulgarian clubs. The most-famous are between CSKA Red Flag and Septemvri Sofia in CSKA September Flag, the capital teams Levski and Spartak in Levski-Spartak, Lokomotiv and Slavia in Slavia, the Plovdiv teams Botev, Spartak and Academic in Trakiya. Mergers happened between other Bulgarian clubs too. These mergers between clubs and reforms in A Group where made at the winter break of the 1968/69 season and after that A Group began to look like "a punctured bag".
Premier Professional Football League 
The 52 years of traditions of the A Republican Football Group were finally broken at the doorstep of the new millеnium when the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Football Union decided to make reforms. The Premier Professional Football League, created in the autumn of 2000, had 14 teams participating in it. At the end of the 2000/01 season the last two teams were directly relegated to the lower division and the team that finished 12th had the chance to compete in the promotion/relegation play-off for the remaining place in the league. Levski Sofia became champions in the first season of the Premier League. They finished with 22 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss in 26 games. They were followed by CSKA Sofia (2nd) and Velbazhd (3rd). The relegated teams were Botev and Minyor.
In the 2001/02 season there was experimentation with the regulations. The championship was divided into 2 phases. In the first phase the teams played a regular season, each team playing twice against all the others, once home and once away. The second phase was a play-off phase. The league was again divided into 2 subgroups. The teams who finished from 1st to 6th played in a home and away format to determine the champion of Bulgaria and the other teams that would play in the UEFA European club tournaments the following season. The teams from 7th to 14th played in a home and away format to determine the teams that would be relegated to the lower division. Levski were again the champions in 2001/02, finishing with 56 points. The UEFA Cup spots were filled by Litex Lovech and CSKA Sofia. The relegated teams were Spartak Pleven, Belasitsa and Beroe. But this experiment was tested only in that season.
In the following season, 2002/03, the championship returned to the regulations of 2000/01 - 14 teams playing in a home and away format. For the first time in 6 years, CSKA Sofia became champions: they were 6 points ahead of their biggest rivals, Levski. Dobrudzha and Rilski Sportist were relegated after just one season.
Bulgarian A Professional Football Group 
The Bulgarian A Professional Football Group was created in 2003, returning to the traditions of A Republican Football Group. The group was formed by 16 teams, each playing twice against all the others, once home and once away. In the first season of the newly created A Group, the 2003/04 season, for the first time in history, Lokomotiv Plovdiv became champions, finishing with 75 points. In 2004/05, CSKA Sofia won A Group for the 30th time.
For the next two seasons, Levski Sofia became champions under manager Stanimir Stoilov. From 2005/2006 the league's name has been A Football Group. In 2007/08, CSKA became champions of A Group for a record-breaking 31st time without a loss out of 30 matches. But in the summer, UEFA didn't give a license for the club to play in the UEFA Champions League qualifing rounds and Levski Sofia entered to play in the tournament instead of CSKA. In the following season Levski Sofia won their last A Group title, finishing just one point ahead of CSKA. Later on, two years in a row Litex Lovech won another 2 titles like in 1997/98 and 1998/99. In 2011/12, after winning promotion from B Group, Ludogorets Razgrad became the second team after Litex to win the A Group in their first season.
A Republican Football Group, the Premier Professional Football League and the present A Group are all presented in football history and statistics as the Bulgarian A Football Group - the top level of the Bulgarian football league system.
Competition format 
It is contested by 16 clubs with professional statute. Each team plays twice against every other team in the league - once home and once away, and that makes 30 matches per season for every team and 240 league matches per season. 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 point for a draw and no points are awarded for a loss. In the standings of A Group, if two or more teams have equal points, the team who has the better goal difference in the direct matches is placed higher in the tables.
The top three positions in the final standings of A Group qualify for the following season's UEFA competitions - the champion (1st place) advances to the UEFA Champions League qualifing rounds and the teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in the final standings - to the UEFA Europa League qualifing rounds. The league operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the second tier of the Bulgarian football league system - B Group. The last four teams are directly relegated. Every season starts in August, and ends in May or June of the following year.
European qualification (as for season 2012/13):
- First place: Second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
- Second place: Second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.
- Third place: Second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.
- Bulgarian Cup winner: Play-off round of the UEFA Europa League.
- If the Bulgarian Cup winner qualifies for European competition through the league, the Bulgarian Cup winner's place in the UEFA Europa League goes to the defeated Bulgarian Cup finalist if it is not already qualified for European competition.
The Derbies 
The Eternal Derby 
The Eternal Derby of Bulgarian football is contested by the two most successful clubs in Bulgaria - PFC CSKA Sofia and PFC Levski Sofia. On every match between the two teams no matter in which league or cup is, there is a fantastic atmosphere with thousands of fans supporting their favourite team.
130 matches have been played between the two clubs in A Group. Levski Sofia has 51 wins, CSKA Sofia 43 wins, with 36 draws. The goal difference is 187:176 in favour of Levski Sofia.
The biggest wins have been 7:2 (17 November 1968) and 7:1 (23 September 1994) for Levski Sofia against CSKA Sofia. The biggest wins for CSKA Sofia were 5:0 (23 September 1959 and 1 October 1989) and 4:0 (14 April 1957).
The highest attendance was on 11 March 1967, at the Vasil Levski National Stadium - 70,000 spectators (Levski Sofia 1:1 CSKA Sofia). The lowest attendance is only 8,000 spectators, on 26 May 2002, at the Bulgarian Army Stadium (CSKA Sofia 1:0 Levski Sofia).
The Plovdiv Derby 
The Plovdiv Derby is the second largest football derby in Bulgaria, performed by the two historic clubs of the city, Botev Plovdiv and Lokomotiv Plovdiv. Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and has the oldest football club in Bulgaria, Botev Plovdiv (1912).
The first match between the two teams in A Group was in 1951 when Lokomotiv Plovdiv won 3-0. The biggest win for Lokomotiv was 7:3 (8 September 1974), and the biggest win for Botev 5:0 twice (season 1988/89 and season 1995/96). The last match that was played in A Group between the teams ended 2:2 on 4 November 2012.
The games between the two teams are well known to the Bulgarian football community as well as to the police - before and after every game there are violent incidents with the supporters of the clubs. The atmosphere at those games is electric - comparable even to the best Latin American football derbies.
In 2008 the broadcasting rights were purchased by the private channels TV2 and Ring TV for 3 plus 2 years. BNT had the first pick for each fixture and broadcast the most interesting match for the weekend. For seasons 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 PRO.BG (the former TV2) and RING.BG (the former Ring TV) bought the rights to broadcast the full pack of 6 matches from each fixture. At the end of 2010/2011, after bTV bought PRO.BG, the channel was rebranded to bTV Action and got on broadcasting only on cable networks. The new owners didn't want to fully pay every club in the league. The clubs weren't happy and they threatened to ban cameras at their matches.
Days before the start of the 2011/2012 season, the private terrestrial channel TV7 bought the rights and broadcast two matches per round of fixtures. As before, the national television BNT1 got the first pick and broadcast the most interesting match for the fixture. The rest of the matches were broadcast live online on the websites Topsport.bg, Livesport.bg, Bookmakers.bg and Sportline.bg.
For the start of the new 2012/2013 season the clubs refused the rights requests from 4 TV stations because of low payments offered - Bulgarian National Television, Nova Television, TV7 and TV+. Finally after the first set of fixtures, the satellite broadcaster Bulsatcom with its channel TV+ bought the rights, along with BNT. In the spring round the rights were bought by TV7 and News7, who have rights for the first, third and forth pick, and BNT 1 along with the international channel BNT World broadcasting the second pick of a match.
Until 2011 the official sponsor of A Group was TBI Credit and the league was officially known as TBI A Football Group.
For 2011/12 A Group had new sponsor - the Victoria FATA Insurance and therefore the league name in that season was Victoria A Football Championship.
From early 2013 the naming rights of A Group were bought from the news television network News7 and therefore the league's name is NEWS7 Football Championship. The new league name must be strictly used by the commentators of matches that are broadcast from A Group, and that includes matches of TV and radio-stations. Those are and were the naming requirements of A Group also for 2011/12, when the league name was Victoria A Football Championship.
Performance by club 
The bolded teams play in the 2012/13 season of A Group. The teams in italics no longer exist.
||1948, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2008|
||1933, 1937, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009|
||1928, 1930, 1936, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1996|
||1940, 1945, 1964, 1978|
||1998, 1999, 2010, 2011|
||1925, 1926, 1934|
|Atletic Slava 1923 (Sofia)||
The following table lists the Bulgarian champions by cities.
||CSKA Sofia (31), Levski Sofia (26), Slavia Sofia (7), Lokomotiv (4), Atletic Slava 1923 (1), Sportclub Sofia (1)|
||Vladislav Varna (3), Ticha Varna (1), Spartak Varna (1)|
||Botev Plovdiv (2), Lokomotiv Plovdiv (1), Spartak Plovdiv (1)|
||Litex Lovech (4)|
||Etar 1924 (1)|
||Ludogorets Razgrad (1)|
A Group All-time ranking 1948-2012 
|3||PFC Slavia Sofia||1st||62||1760||771||425||564||2681||2043||1967||1||7||10|
|7||Cherno More Varna||1st||47||1343||467||349||527||1599||1736||1283||–||–||2|
|8||Beroe Stara Zagora||1st||44||1291||419||295||577||1565||1958||1133||1||–||1|
|15||Etar Veliko Tarnovo||1st||24||726||264||161||301||951||1043||689||1||–||2|
|17||OFC Sliven 2000||2nd||25||750||246||164||340||906||1109||656||–||–||–|
|26||Lokomotiv Gorna Oryahovitsa||3rd||9||268||95||48||125||280||390||238||–||–||–|
UEFA Ranking 
Current Bulgarian A Group ranking (2013)
- 22 (19) Czech Gambrinus Liga
- 23 (25) Slovak First League
- 24 (24) Swedish Allsvenskan
- 25 (27) Serbian SuperLiga
- 26 (28) Bulgarian A Football Group
- 27 (26) Norwegian Tippeligaen
- 28 (18) Scottish Premier League
- 29 (29) Hungarian Nemzeti Bajnokság I
- 30 (31) Georgian Umaglesi Liga
- Full List
A Group has over 20 active referees that are available for matches as from the 2012/13 season. Only 7 of them are fully certified international FIFA referees. They are: Anton Genov, Angel Angelov, Stanislav Todorov, Georgi Yordanov, Tsvetan Georgiev, Nikolai Yordanov and Alexander Kostadinov. There are other 9 assistant referees that are fully certified international FIFA referees.
Famous Individuals 
||This list of "famous" or "notable" sporting persons has no clear inclusion or exclusion criteria. Please help to define clear inclusion criteria and edit the list to contain only subjects that fit those criteria. (May 2013)|
World famous players who have played in A Group are Mario Jardel, Benoît Cauet, Hamilton Ricard, Garba Lawal, Milivoje Novaković, Savio Nsereko, Vladislav Radimov, Bernardo Redin, Georgi Asparuhov, Dimitar Berbatov, Hristo Stoichkov, Martin Petrov, Stiliyan Petrov, Luboslav Penev, Krassimir Balakov, Garra Dembélé, José Emilio Furtado, Radostin Kishishev, Stanislav Manolev, Ivelin Popov, Júnior Moraes, Daniel Borimirov, Dimitar Ivankov, Nikolay Mihaylov and many others. Famous foreign coaches include Luigi Simoni, Ljupko Petrović, Rudolf Vytlacil, Ioan Andone and others.
- Most times champion — CSKA Sofia — 31 times.
- Most seasons played in the division from 1924 to 2012 — Levski Sofia (74).
- Most seasons played in A Group from 1948 to 2012 - Levski Sofia(63), CSKA Sofia (63).
- Fewest seasons played in the division — Benkovski Vidin, Cherveno Zname Pavlikeni, Rozova Dolina Kazanlak, Akademik Varna, Olimpik Teteven, Nesebar and Chernomorets Burgas Sofia each have played only a single season in the division.
- Most wins in a single season — CSKA Sofia 31 of 32 games 2004/2005.
- Fewest wins in a single season — Torpedo Ruse (out of 22 matches during 1951) and Rakovski Ruse (out of 30 matches during 1996/97) and Chernomorets Burgas Sofia (out of 30 matches during 2006/07) each did not win a game in a single season.
- Most defeats in a single season — Rakovski Ruse (out of 30 matches during 1996/97) and Chernomorets Burgas Sofia — 29 (out of 30 matches during 2006/2007).
- Fewest defeats in a single season — Spartak Sofia (out of 22 matches during 1951), Levski Sofia (out of 18 matches during 1948/49), CSKA Sofia (then CDNA; out of 11 matches in 1958) and CSKA Sofia (out of 30 matches during 2007/2008) each did not lose a game in a single season.
- Most goals scored in a single season — Levski Sofia — 96 goals in 30 matches during 2006/07.
- Fewest goals scored in a single season — Rakovski Ruse (out of 30 matches during 1996/97), Chernomorets Burgas Sofia (out of 30 matches during 2006/07), Torpedo Ruse (out of 22 matches during 1951) and Cherno More Varna (out of 11 matches during 1968) each scored only 8 goals in a single season.
- Most goals conceded in a single season — Chernomorets Burgas Sofia — 131 (out of 30 matches during 2006/07).
- Least goals conceded in a single season — Levski Sofia - 6 goals.
- Biggest win — CSKA Sofia 12:0 Torpedo Ruse in 1951.
- Most times champion — Manol Manolov with CSKA Sofia — 12 times
- Most matches played in the division — Marin Bakalov — 454 matches for Botev Plovdiv, CSKA Sofia, Spartak Plovdiv, Maritsa Plovdiv and Olimpik Teteven
- Most goals in the division — Petar Zhekov — 253 goals; 8 for Dimitrovgrad, 101 for Beroe Stara Zagora and 144 for CSKA Sofia
- Most goals in a single season — Hristo Stoichkov — 38 goals for CSKA Sofia during 1989/90
- Most goals in a single match — Petar Mihaylov (for CSKA Sofia against Torpedo Ruse in 1951), Ivo Georgiev (for Spartak Varna against Spartak Plovdiv in 1995/96), Todor Pramatarov (for Slavia Sofia against Rakovski Ruse in 1996/97) and Tsvetan Genkov (for Lokomotiv Sofia against Chernomorets Burgas Sofia in 2006/2007) each scored 6 goals in a single match
All-time top scorers 
|In bold Currently playing in A Group|
All-time appearances 
|In bold Currently playing in A Group|
|1938||Krum Milev||Slavia Sofia||12|
|1939||Georgi Pachedzhiev||AS 23 Sofia||14|
|1940|| Yanko Stoyanov
FK 13 Sofia
|1949|| Dimitar Milanov
Cherno More Varna
|1950||Lyubomir Hranov||Levski Sofia||13|
|1951||Dimitar Milanov||CSKA Sofia||14|
|1952|| Dimitar Isakov
|1953||Dimitar Minchev||Spartak Pleven; VVS Sofia||15|
|1954||Dobromir Tashkov||Slavia Sofia||25|
|1955||Todor Diev||Spartak Plovdiv||13|
|1956||Pavel Vladimirov||Minyor Pernik||16|
|1957|| Hristo Iliev
|1958|| Dobromir Tashkov
|1959||Aleksandar Vasilev||Slavia Sofia||13|
|1960|| Dimitar Yordanov
|1961||Ivan Sotirov||Botev Plovdiv||20|
|1962|| Nikola Yordanov
|1963||Todor Diev||Spartak Plovdiv||26|
|1964||Nikola Tsanev||CSKA Sofia||26|
|1965||Georgi Asparuhov||Levski Sofia||27|
|1966||Traycho Spasov||Marek Dupnitsa||21|
|1967||Petar Zhekov||Beroe Stara Zagora||21|
|1968||Petar Zhekov||Beroe Stara Zagora||31|
|1969||Petar Zhekov||CSKA Sofia||36|
|1970||Petar Zhekov||CSKA Sofia||31|
|1972||Petar Zhekov||CSKA Sofia||27|
|1973||Petar Zhekov||CSKA Sofia||29|
|1974|| Petko Petkov
|Beroe Stara Zagora
|1975||Ivan Pritargov||Botev Plovdiv||20|
|1976|| Petko Petkov
|Beroe Stara Zagora
|1977||Pavel Panov||Levski Sofia||20|
|1978||Stoycho Mladenov||Beroe Stara Zagora||21|
|1979||Rusi Gochev||Chernomorets Burgas and Levski Sofia||19|
|1980||Spas Dzhevizov||CSKA Sofia||23|
|1981||Georgi Slavkov||Botev Plovdiv||31|
|1982||Mihail Valchev||Levski Sofia||24|
|1984|| Eduard Eranosyan
|1985||Plamen Getov||Spartak Pleven||26|
|1986||Atanas Pashev||Botev Plovdiv||30|
|1987||Nasko Sirakov||Levski Sofia||36|
|1988||Nasko Sirakov||Levski Sofia||28|
|1989||Hristo Stoichkov||CSKA Sofia||23|
|1990||Hristo Stoichkov||CSKA Sofia||38|
|1991||Ivaylo Yordanov||Lokomotiv Gorna Oryahovitsa||21|
|1992||Nasko Sirakov||Levski Sofia||26|
|1993||Plamen Getov||Levski Sofia||26|
|1994||Nasko Sirakov||Levski Sofia||30|
|1995||Petar Mihtarski||CSKA Sofia||24|
|1996||Ivo Georgiev||Spartak Varna||21|
|1997||Todor Pramatarov||Slavia Sofia||26|
|1998|| Anton Spasov
|1999||Dimcho Belyakov||Litex Lovech||21|
|2000||Mihail Mihaylov||Velbazhd Kyustendil||20|
|2001|| Georgi Ivanov
|2002||Vladimir Manchev||CSKA Sofia||21|
|2003||Georgi Chilikov||Levski Sofia||23|
|2004||Martin Kamburov||Lokomotiv Plovdiv||25|
|2005||Martin Kamburov||Lokomotiv Plovdiv||27|
|2006|| Milivoje Novakovič
Jose Emilio Furtado
Vihren and CSKA Sofia
|2007||Tsvetan Genkov||Lokomotiv Sofia||27|
|2008||Georgi Hristov||Botev Plovdiv||19|
|2009||Martin Kamburov||Lokomotiv Sofia||17|
|2010||Wilfried Niflore||Litex Lovech||19|
|2011||Garra Dembele||Levski Sofia||26|
|2012|| Ivan Stoyanov
- League at UEFA