PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv
|Full name||Професионален футболен клуб Локомотив 1926 Пловдив
(Professional football club Lokomotiv 1926 Plovdiv)
|Nickname(s)||Smurfs; black and white|
|Founded||25 July 1926|
|Ground||Lokomotiv Stadium (Plovdiv), Plovdiv|
|2012–13||A PFG, 9th|
|Website||Club home page|
PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv (Bulgarian: ПФК Локомотив Пловдив) is a Bulgarian football club from the city of Plovdiv, which competes in Bulgaria's top football league, the A PFG. Lokomotiv Plovdiv's home ground is the Lokomotiv Stadium (also known as Lauta) in the city, which has a capacity of 12 000 spectators due to a collapse of one of the sectors and reconstruction works currently in progress.
In the 2003–04 season of the A PFG, Lokomotiv became champions of Bulgaria, finishing the season with three points more than the second, Levski Sofia. This title is the first one in the club's long history. So far, Lokomotiv Plovdiv has also won one Bulgarian Supercup in 2004 and one Cup of the Soviet Army in 1983. The club's biggest success in Europe is reaching the third round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1965, after losing to the Italian Juventus F.C. in a controversial play-off match.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Roots of the Club (until 1944)
- 1.2 Creation of the Black-and-Whites (1944-1955)
- 1.3 First Relegation from the Elite (1955-1960)
- 1.4 Success Home and Abroad (1960-1985)
- 1.5 1985-2000
- 1.6 Georgi Iliev Years (2000-2004)
- 1.7 Recent history (2004-present)
- 2 Support
- 3 Current squad
- 4 Managerial history
- 5 Notable players
- 6 Honours
- 7 Recent seasons
- 8 UEFA ranking
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Description of the club's history requires attention to the reorganisations that the team has undergone since its creation and how the members and fans of the team have reacted to these changes. It should be noted that the political environment in Bulgaria during the communist period between 1944-1989 has lead to some forced changes in the nature of sporting clubs throughout the country as to follow "the Soviet model". In the case of PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv, these changes have led to the merger of two teams, that are different in nature, leading to misinterpretations of the history of the teams. This said, a special approach is needed towards the history of the early years of the contemporary football club of Lokomotiv Plovdiv. In order to understand the origin of the contemporary team with its official full name, colours, and supporters, the examination of Lokomotiv's history has to be undertaken in two major "branches" - one defined by its followers and recognisable features, and the other by its functional characteristic and funding as a labour union team. These branches can be defined as that of Sportklub Plovdiv (being the fan-based team), and of club of the railway workers (being the team funded by the union).
Roots of the Club (until 1944)
In the spring of 1922 the sport club Karadzha is founded administratively by the consolidation of some casual football teams in one of the districts of the city of Plovdiv so that the players can compete in the Championship of Plovdiv. Two years later, in 1924, the sport club Atletik is formed in the same district of Plovdiv as Karadzha.
On 26 July 1926 the two sport clubs from the same district, Karadzha and Atletik, unite to form the team of Sportklub. The football club chooses white, black and red as the colours of their kits and their crest and several years later adds the year 1926 to their crest. Nowadays, Lokomotiv Plovdiv still uses the same colours for their kits and crest, and the full name of the team (Professional Football Club Lokomotiv 1926 Plovdiv) shows that the year the team assumes itself to be founded in is the year Sportklub was founded. Sportklub had its home grounds in the city centre. However, after the disastrous earthquake in South Bulgaria in 1928, the team gave up their field so that people who lost their homes can settle and build new homes where the club's grounds were. From 1928 Sportklub did not have their own football field for more than two decades.
As a football team, in the years after Sportklub was created, it competed in the Championship of Plovdiv, which by that time had two divisions. In the early years of Bulgarian football there is no national football league and championships held on a regional level throughout a calendar year are the most prestigious tournaments in the country. In season 1933 Sportklub finishes first in the second division of Plovdiv's league so from 1934 it participates in the top division of the championship. In 1936 Sportklub becomes the Champion of Plovdiv for the first time.
In 1938, the team joined the National Football Division, the countrywide football league formed a year earlier that included Bulgaria's top ten teams. However, after only three seasons, in 1940, the tournament is disbanded because of the Bulgaria's participation in World War II (WW2). By that time the club has changed its name to Plovdivski Sportklub (meaning Sportklub of Plovdiv) since several other teams in the country also had Sportklub in their name.
During the years of WW2, the team participates in several other tournaments including the Tsar's Cup considered Bulgaria's most prestigious knock-out tournament at the time and a predecessor of the current domestic cup tournament. In the Tsar's Cup the team reaches the finals twice - in 1940 and in 1942.
During the years from its creation up to the beginning of the communist rule in Bulgaria in 1944 Sportklub has become one of the best teams in the country with a constant participation in the final phases of the most prestigious tournaments. By 1944 the team is the biggest in Plovdiv and the region in terms of members, and has a dedicated following with its fans setting records in attendance of football matches for the period.
The Club of the Railway Workers in Plovdiv
In the mid-1930s the labour union of the railway workers and sailors organises the establishment of several cultural and sporting organisations. On 13 June 1935 the railway workers of Plovdiv, as one of the major travel centres, receive a sports club named ZSK Plovdiv (abbreviated from Zheleznicharski sporten klub meaning the sporting club of the railway workers).
The first years of the club are difficult and the team does not have the glory of some of the other teams of Plovdiv such as Sportklub or Botev Plovdiv. The club is accepted as a member of the national sport federation a whole three years after its creation. Nevertheless, in the early 1940s the team gains its glory by winning the Championship of Plovdiv in 1944.
In an economical aspect, the railway club contributes heavily to the development of sports in the region of Plovdiv, making large inputs for the improvement of sporting conditions in the city. Most notably, the powerful national railway company through ZSK Plovdiv is the main benefactor for the creation of a state of the art multi-purpose stadium in the city. The stadium, opened in 1943, has a football field, and since it is built on the place of the pitches of the football team of Levski Plovdiv, it becomes the home for the teams of ZSK Plovdiv and Levski Plovdiv, and is subsequently named "ZSK-Levski".
Creation of the Black-and-Whites (1944-1955)
Changes in Sportklub
In the years after 1944, the newly established communist rule embarks in several campaigns for "reorganisation of the sporting clubs in Bulgaria" so that they are aligned with the political agenda and follow the "Soviet model". This means that every area should have its sports club, but in order to utilise the investments only a few clubs are allowed per area so that they can have more members and can be more inclusive, leading to a forceful merger of clubs and teams. Thus, in 1944, since Sportklub is from a district in Plovdiv with a population from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, the club is merged with several lower division, so called "Aremenian", teams such as Shant and Erevan. Another merger follows in 1945 with the "Catholic" club Parchevich. After this wave of mergers, like many others in the country, the club is renamed to the abbreviated "S.P.-45", meaning Spotklub Parchevich - 1945. However, because of its "Western" phrasing ("sport club"), the team was soon renamed "Slaviya" Plovdiv.
In 1947 a new wave of consolidations of the sport organisations in the country melds Slaviya Plovdiv with the city team of the cooperative workers - Petar Chengelov. The merger creates the club Slaviya-Chengelov.
Through all these mergers, the club originally named Sportklub keeps its colours and the core of its team, with only several players from the incorporated squads finding a place in the first team of the "new" club. As for the fans, the supporters of Sportklub remain loyal to the colours and the players, and the followers of the assimilated clubs join them, increasing even further the number of fans and members of the largest, at that time club, in Plovdiv. Though, technically the cubs merge, the size of Sportklub makes the union a practical assimilation of the small clubs.
During that period, the club reaches the final of the domestic cup (at that time being the Cup of the Soviet Army) for the third time in its history in 1948 as Slaviya-Chengelov. In season 1948 the club was one of the ten founder teams of the new national top league - "A" Republican Football Group (A RFG) - the predecessor of the current Bulgarian league top division.
Changes in ZSK
The "reorganisation of sport clubs" in line with the Soviet model for ZSK Plovdiv begins in the autumn of 1944. The club is merged with the team with which it shares a stadium - Levski Plovdiv, to form ZSK-Levski according to the trend. Still, unlike most other forced mergers at that time, the ZSK-Levski venture was dissolved in only a year. The two clubs continued to co-exist as separate enitities sharing the same stadium, but ZSK is renamed to Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) similar to all other teams connected in some way with the railways in the countries of the Eastern bloc (such as Lokomotiv Sofia, Lokomotiv Moskva,Lokomotiv Leipzig).
Although the team is financially backed by the solid national railway company, in the first years of the communist rule the football team of the railway workers competes merely on the third level of the recently formed national league. Furthermore, the club is the smallest in Plovdiv in terms of members and attracts a modest number of attendants to its jewel-stadium for its games, whereas teams such as Levski Sofia and Lyuboslav (Burgas) filled their greater in size stadiums.
Merger of Slaviya-Chengelov and Lokomotiv Plovdiv
In the summer of 1949 the Bulgarian Communist Party adopts a new principal governing the construction of sports clubs. According to the new political agenda, clubs must serve as the fitness departments of the politically important enterprises (such as the oil refineries, the police, the army, the national railway company, and others). Thus, the territorial situation of a club is no longer important and clubs must be assigned to the larger branches of the major institutions in the country.
The reorganisations of 1949 assign Lokomotiv to assimilate Slaviya, since Lokomotiv is already a team associated with a significant enterprise. Yet, at that time Slaviya-Chengelov is not only the largest club in Plovdiv in terms of members with an even larger fan-base, but in 1948 is the largest in Bulgaria. Hence, the smallest club in Plovdiv (Lokomotiv) has to assimilate one of the largest clubs in the country. So in October 1949, when the formal "assimilation" of Slaviya into Lokomotiv takes place to form DSO Energiya, the club keeps the colours of Slaviya-Chengelov (white, red, and black) for both the kits and the crest of the football team, and the team itself retains only four players from Lokomotiv and the core of the team remains the same Slaviya players. Nevertheless, after more than two decades since the earthquake in 1928, the club and its fans have a "home base" - the stadium of Lokomotiv.
Just months after DSO Energiya is created, changes in the names of clubs in the Soviet Union to Torpedo, inspire the renaming of several clubs in Bulgaria in the same manner, so that DSO Energiya is renamed to Torpedo Plovdiv.
For season 1950 Torpedo Plovdiv takes the place of Slaviya-Chengelov in the top level of the Bulgarian football league system (A RFG). Yet, during the season it becomes clear that the club will undergo some more changes since as part of the transport union the club has to be composed entirely of members of the union which included the players of the football team as well as all the members of the club - the large number of members of Slaviya-Chengelov. Thus, in 1951 before the new season begins, the transport union establish a new club named DSO Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) which will use the same colours for kits for its football team as Torpedo (but with only black and white stripes for their main shirts), and will play on the same stadium. The union also transfer all the players of Torpedo in DSO Lokomotiv. For the purpose of making them official union members, each player is de facto employed in the national railways. On the other hand, Torpedo Plovdiv is taken out of the labour union and is no longer subsidised by it or the railway company. DSO Lokomotiv also acquires the license of Torpedo to play in A RFG, and Torpedo itself is relegated to the third division of the league.
From the start of season 1951 the fans of the team of Torpedo Plovdiv in 1950 are supporting the same team but belonging to DSO Lokomotiv Plovdiv in 1951. Since, after the team has been assigned to the railway company and is governed by the labour union, membership requires a job in the industry, the official numbers of members of the club are drastically smaller than the members of Torpedo in 1950, still the followers of the team remain the same. Hence, in 1951 DSO Lokomotiv is the effective successor of Torpedo even though the club Torpedo continues to exist.
From 1951 to 1954 the team is one of the best performers in the football elite, annually reaching at least the quarter-final phase of both the domestic cup competition (at that time recognised to be the Cup of the Soviet Army) and the top division league.
First Relegation from the Elite (1955-1960)
In 1955 the team of DSO Lokomotiv is entirely changed - many key players are sold and the team seems to be unable to collaborate. In result, in season 1955 DSO Lokomotiv is relegated to the second division of Bulgarian football. For the fans the next season would be the first time their team plays outside the most prestigious echelon of Bulgarian football.
DSO Lokomotiv plays in second division for five seasons until it earns its promotion back to the elite for season 1961-62. In the same year, 1960, the team reaches the final of the domestic cup for the fourth time in its history (after 1940 and 1942 as Sportklub, and 1948 as Slaviya-Chengelov) but for the fourth time - it lost.
During its stay in the second division, the club experiences again the reorganisation of sports politics in the People's Republic of Bulgaria that took place in 1957. According to the changes, clubs no longer needed to be affiliated to enterprises and instead the the emphasis turned back to the territorial principle. Thus, sport clubs no longer needed to be "DSO" (abbreviation meaning "voluntary sports organisation") inside the principal. Rather, as a club with many supporters in its area, DSO Lokomotiv assimilated the clubs Torpedo Plovdiv (with which it still shared a stadium) and Septemvri (Plovdiv). As the club no longer needed to be "DSO" it changed its name to "Lokomotiv" Plovdiv'.
Success Home and Abroad (1960-1985)
After re-entering the elite (A RFG) in 1961, it takes Lokomotiv seven years to reach top 3 and get a medal in season 1968-69.
On an international level however, the team achieves success much quicker. In season 1964-65, Lokomotiv Plovdiv reaches the quarter-final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, where after two draws with the legendary team of Juventus with Omar Sívori, Luis del Sol and Sandro Salvadore in their squad (each ending with a score 1:1), a third play-off match is chosen by UEFA to be played in Torino. The game is lost by "Loko" with a score of 2:1.
Before reaching the quarter-final of the international football competition, the "Smurfs" have eliminated the Serbian FK Vojvodina and the Romanian FC Petrolul Ploieşti. Key players during this period include forward Gocho Vasilev, midfielder Hristo Bonev, defender Ivan Boyadzhiev and goalkeeper Stancho Bonchev.
In 1973, Lokomotiv wins the silver medals of A RFG, finishing the season with 43 points, 7 less than the first, CSKA Sofia. The following year, another celebration is in order - in 1974 Lokomotiv finished the season in the third place getting the league bronze. In the following few years period the team is quite stable and it was very rarely standing under the 6th position in the league table. Among the team's players is Hristo Bonev - considered by most Loko fans as being the greatest player of the club ever, and one of the greatest Bulgarian players.
When after season 1979-80 Lokomotiv Plovdiv is again relegated to Bulgaria's second football division, it takes the team three seasons to earn its place back in the football elite.
Despite being in second division between 1981 and 1983, Loko reaches the final of the Cup of the Soviet Army twice. In 1982 for the sixth time the team cannot win the domestic cup. In 1983 however, led by Hristo Bonev, Lokomotiv won their first national cup beating FC Chirpan 3:1 at Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on 1 June. (Be that as it may, it is important to note that the tournament of the Cup of the Soviet Army, held annually between 1946-1990, is recognised by the Bulgarian Football Union(BFU) as the domestic cup tournament upto 1982. In 1981, the tournament for the Bulgarian Cup begins to take place every year and rises in prestige, overtaking the significance of the Cup of the Soviet Army in sequent years. At present, the BFU's official statement is that it considers the Bulgarian Cup to represent the domestic cup from 1983 onwards. Thus, nowadays the Cup of the Soviet Army won in 1983 by Lokomotiv Plovdiv is the first officially non-recognised as the domestic cup Soviet Army trophy; i.e Lokomotiv Plovdiv is not officially recognised as the bearer of the domestic cup for 1983 - it is a non-official bearer. Yet, at that time, the Soviet Army Cup was for all intents and purposes, is the domestic football cup trophy.)
In 1982 the team acquired a new stadium situated in park "Lauta" near the city's newest district. "Lokomotiv" Stadium is part of a sports complex used by the other teams of the sports club (such as the volleyball and the boxing teams of "Lokomotiv" Plovdiv.
In season 1983-84, even though the club has just been promoted to the top division, and in defiance of being the Soviet Army Cup holder, Loko Plovdiv relegates itself again and plays season 1984-85 in the lower level of the Bulgarian league system. In 1985 the team earns it promotion back to A RFG.
After its return to the top division in 1985 the team makes a steady performance for over a decade, placing itself in the middle of the league table until the late 1990s. During that time the team finishes in top 3 only once - in season 1991-92.
In the late 1990s the form of the team worsens which takes them out of the elite again, and in seasons 1998-99 and 1999-00 Lokomotiv Plovdiv plays in B PFG.
Georgi Iliev Years (2000-2004)
In 2000 the club is bought by Gerogi Iliev. At that time, Iliev owns another football club - Velbazhd Kyustendil. The team from Kyustendil has a very good performance in the Bulgarian top division (A PFG) finishing in third place three consecutive seasons until 2000-01 and is a national cup runner-up in 2001.
In season 2001-02 Iliev decides to merge the two teams creating the contemporary Lokomotiv Plovdiv (full name: Professional Football Club Lokomotiv 1926 Plovdiv). The new club is based in the grounds of the Lokomotiv that merged with Velbazhd, uses the same colours and is the official successor of that club. Yet, the team was formed almost entirely of the players performing excellently in the last years in the club from Kyustendil. As a result, that team finished third again at the end of the season.
The most successful season in the club's history was the 2003-04 campaign. Lokomotiv won the title, the first and so far the only in the club's history. The coach, Bulgarian Eduard Eranosyan, formerly football player of the team started the 2003–04 well, with Lokomotiv leading the league by six points halfway through the season and remaining unbeaten. In the penultimate, 29th round, The Smurfs defeated Slavia Sofia in Plovdiv by 3:2 in front of more than 17,000 spectators, and Lokomotiv won the Bulgarian championship. Lokomotiv finished the season with 75 points, 3 more than the second, Levski Sofia. In the team lines was recent acquisition Martin Kamburov who became the goals scorer in Bulgaria with 26 goals. Key players during the fantastic season included Vasil Kamburov, Georgi Iliev, Aleksandar Tunchev, Kiril Kotev, Vladimir Ivanov, Metodi Stoynev and the Macedonians Boban Jančevski, Vančo Trajanov and Robert Petrov.
Recent history (2004-present)
The next 2004-05 season in the domestic league was also very successful for the team, which finished 3rd in A PFG, and qualified for the UEFA Cup. In the European club competition, Lokomotiv defeated Serbian OFK Beograd in the second qualifying round (1:0 home win and 1:2 away loss) and were drawn to play against the English Bolton Wanderers in the first round. However, the team from Plovdiv was eliminated after a 1-2 loss at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton and another 1-2 loss in a match, played at the Lazur Stadium in Burgas.
In the next few months the club had big financial problems. Because of these problems, many of the players of the champions team, as Aleksandar Tunchev, Martin Kamburov, Ivan Paskov, Georgi Iliev, Darko Spalević, Kiril Kotev and Boban Jančevski left the club.
In the 2005-06 season Lokomotiv finished 5th in A PFG and qualified for the Intertoto Cup. Loko were eliminated with a 2-3 (1-2 away loss and a 1-1 home draw) on aggregate by Romanian Farul Constanţa.
In the next three seasons, the team finished in the middle of the table. In December 2009, the businessman and ex-Vihren Sandanski owner Konstantin Dinev acquired the club from Galina Topalova in a 2 million euro bid, with the clear intention to bring Loko back to European club competition.
For recent transfers, see List of Bulgarian football transfers summer 2013.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Up to three non-EU nationals can be registered and given a squad number for the first team in the A PFG. 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 5 years.
EU Nationals (Dual citizenship)
 As of 15 June 2013
The following players included were either playing for their respective national teams or left good impression among the fans.
Note: For a complete list of Lokomotiv Plovdiv players, see Category:PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv players.
- Runners-up (4 [7†]): [1940 (as Sportklub), 1942 (as Sportklub), 1948 (as Slaviya-Chengelov),] 1960, 1971, 1982, 2012
- Non-official Winners (1)‡: 1983 (Cup of the Soviet Army winners)
†: Accomplishments in tournaments before 1949 are not officially recognised by the BFU as accomplishments by Lokomotiv Plovdiv.
‡: Currently the BFU recognises the title holders of the Cup of the Soviet Army as domestic cup holders of the years from 1948 to 1982 inclusive.
|2003-04||A Group||1||30||24||3||3||74||+50||75||Semi-final||Won the 2004 Bulgarian Supercup|
|2005-06||A Group||5||28||11||7||10||43||+1||40||Round of 32|
|2007-08||A Group||9||30||12||7||11||37||+9||43||1/4 Final|
|2008-09||A Group||6||30||12||7||11||40||-3||43||Round of 32|
|2009-10||A Group||12||30||9||6||15||36||-16||33||Round of 32|
|2010-11||A Group||5||30||14||10||6||54||+26||52||1/4 Finals|
|2011-12||A Group||6||30||17||6||7||44||+5||57||Runner-Up||2012 Bulgarian Supercup Runner-Up|
|2012-13||A Group||9||30||10||9||11||37||+3||39||Round of 32|
|333||PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv||3.275|
|334||FK Borac Banja Luka||3.250|
Updated: 29 Nov 2013 UEFA Club Coefficients
- Official website (Bulgarian)
- Official fan-website (Bulgarian)
- Historical fan-website (Bulgarian)
- Official Facebook page (Bulgarian)
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