PFC Botev Plovdiv

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Botev Plovdiv
PFC Botev Plovdiv.png
Full name Professional Football Club Botev
Nickname(s) Kanarchetata (The Canaries)
Founded 12 March 1912; 105 years ago (1912-03-12)
Ground Hristo Botev, Plovdiv
Ground Capacity 20,777
Shareholders Association Botev (61%)
TC-IME (39%)
Chairman Angel Paliyski
Head coach Nikolay Kirov
League Bulgarian First League
2016–17 First League, 8th
Website Club home page

PFC Botеv Plovdiv (Bulgarian: ПФК Ботев Пловдив /bɔtɛv pɫɔvdiv/), or simply Botev, is the oldest continuously existing Bulgarian association football club. The club was founded on 12 March 1912 by a group of students in Plovdiv. Its home ground, the Hristo Botev Stadium, is located in the residential quarter of Kamenitza and currently is under construction. Therefore, home matches are played at club's training ground in Komatevo neighbourhood (capacity of 3500 spectators). The team currently competes in First League, the top division of the Bulgarian football league system.

The club is named as Botev in honor of the Bulgarian national hero Hristo Botev. The club's colours are yellow and black.

The Canaries (the nickname of the club) are two-time champions of A Group and have won the Bulgarian Cup three times. Also, in the Bulgarian top championship, Botev have been vice-champion twice and have finished third on the league table ten times. As for the Bulgarian Cup tournament, the team has reached the final twelve times. In the years before A Group was created, the club is a six-time champion of Plovdiv. Internationally Botev has reached the Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals once and has won the Balkans Cup once. The club is a four-time winner of the Trimontzium Cup (friendly international tournament held in Plovdiv). The club won the Interleague-86 Cup (Polish Football Association trophy).


Botev Plovdiv and Admira Wien before a match in 1926
The champion team of 1929

Early years (1912–1950)[edit]

Botev Plovdiv was founded in 1912 and is the oldest still existing football club in Bulgaria. Stoyan Puhtev became president, Nenko Penelov was the vice-president, Petar Delev secretary and Tenyo Rusev steward. Rusev named it "Botev" in honor of the Bulgarian national hero Hristo Botev. Since then, the club's name has been changed for political reasons several times: Botev (1912–1946), DNV(1947–51), DNA (1952–57), SKNA (1957), Botev (1957–1968) and Trakia (1968–1989). The current name is Botev Plovdiv. The club's colours, yellow and black, were adopted in 1917.

In 1920, the team won the unofficial football championship of Plovdiv. On August 30, 1925, the canaries played their first official international match against the Turkish Fenerbahçe. In the next year, the team led by the coach and captain Nikola Shterev, won the first official trophy, the Cup of Plovdiv.

Botev Plovdiv became National League champions for the first time in 1929, winning the final against Levski Sofia. The canaries won with 1:0 the final game in Sofia. The goal scored Nikola Shterev. Key players during this period included Nikola Shterev, Stancho Prodanov, Vangel Kaundzhiev and Mihail Kostov, who also played for the national team.


In 1951, Botev Plovdiv joined the newly created Bulgarian A PFG. Despite being relegated in 1953 to the Bulgarian B PFG, in 1954 the club easily won promotion for the top division. 1956 was very successful for the team, which finished 3rd in the domestic league and qualified for the final of the Bulgarian Cup, where Botev faced Levski Sofia. The final match was lost by the canaries with 2:5.

In the next few years, the local municipality decided to build a new venue for the sports club. The construction for the sports complex, started on July 21, 1959 and was built in a period of two years. The new stadium was named Hristo Botev, in honor of the national hero. The sport venue was inaugurated with a friendly match between Botev and Steaua Bucureşti, which was won by the canaries with 3:0 in front of 20,000 spectators.

Dinko Dermendzhiev era (1961–1980)[edit]

The champion team of 1967

In 1961 Botev finished 3rd in the A PFG, for second time in the club's history. This championship also marked the first appearance of the club's most important player Dinko Dermendzhiev and the beginning of Botev's golden age. Dermendzhiev holds Botev's overall appearances record, playing in 447 matches for the club. Second is Viden Apostolov with 429 matches and third is Petar Zehtinski with 351. Botev's all-time leading scorer is also Dermendzhiev, who scored 194 goals at his period in the club. Kostadin Kostadinov is the Botev's second highest scorer with 106 goals and third is Atanas Pashev with 100 goals.

Under the leadership of Dinko Dermendzhiev, Botev won their first Bulgarian Cup in 1962, beating Dunav Rousse 3–0 at Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on 12 August. In the 1962–63 season Botev reached the quarter-final of the Cup Winners' Cup by eliminating Steaua Bucureşti and Shamrock Rovers before losing to Atlético Madrid 1–5 on aggregate. In the same season the team finished runners-up in A PFG with 40 points, only 3 less than the first, Spartak Plovdiv.

In 1967 Botev became champions for the second time. The championship team featured several notable players, such as Viden Apostolov, Georgi Popov and Rayko Stoynov, with Vasil Spasov as head coach. Botev represented Bulgaria in the 1967–68 European Champions Cup where they lost in the first round to Rapid Bucureşti after 2:0 win in Plovdiv and 0–3 (a.e.t.) loss in Romania. A five years later, in 1972, the team became winner of the Balkans Cup for the first time, playing against Yugoslavian Velež Mostar after two spectacular final matches to take the cup.

The Golden Team (1981–1990)[edit]

In 1981, the club's forward Georgi Slavkov won the club's highest individual achievement, the European Golden Shoe after finishing as Europe's top domestic scorer with 31 goals. The same year, the team won its second Bulgarian Cup, after a win against Pirin Blagoevgrad. This period was very successful for the club. Botev finished 3rd in the A PFG, in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 2nd in 1986. In this year the team finished with 41 points, only 2 less than the first, Beroe, in spite of the 8–1 win against Beroe in the direct match. Many of the club's most notable stars played around this time, such as Antim Pehlivanov, Dimitar Vichev, Atanas Pashev, Dimitar Mladenov, Zapryan Rakov, Blagoy Bangev and Petar Zehtinski were part of the rank and file of the notable Golden Team.

An important achievement of that period was the 1985 Cup Winners' Cup campaign, when Botev qualified for the second round of the tournament. The team secured a 2–0 victory against the German powerhouse Bayern Munich (with Klaus Augenthaler, Dieter Hoeneß, Søren Lerby, Lothar Matthäus and Jean-Marie Pfaff in their squad). On November 7, 1984, in front of more than 45,000 spectators at Plovdiv Stadium, Atanas Pashev and Kostadin Kostadinov scored for the win, but Botev were eliminated after losing 1:4 in the first-leg. Another memorable win is the 1:0 home victory over Barcelona in a Cup Winners' Cup first-leg in 1981.

Brokers Era (1991–1999)[edit]

In 1992, the club was bought by a conglomerate of brokers led by Hristo Alexandrov and Hristo Danov. They brought in players with experience in Bulgarian football, such as Nasko Sirakov, Bozhidar Iskrenov, Kostadin Vidolov and Borislav Mihaylov. In this period, Botev signed the first foreign player in the club's history, the Hungarian Roberto Szabay. These big investments however did not bring any significant results and the club only reached third place in the A PFG in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

Hristolov takeover, financial implosion (1999–2010)[edit]

On 19 March 1999 Botev was acquired by Dimitar Hristolov. This day marked the beginning of difficult years for the club. In the 2000–01 season, the team was relegated to B PFG, after playing 47 years in the A PFG. Botev spent one season in the second division and quickly returned to the top flight, but in 2004 the club was relegated for the second time. From 2005 to 2009 the club played in the A PFG, but in the second part of the league table.

In September 2009, Botev Plovdiv set an unusual record after fielding seven Italian players in the 1:2 away loss against Litex Lovech, becoming the first A PFG club to feature that many foreigners from the same nationality.[1]

On 24 February 2010, Botev Plovdiv were administratively relegated from A PFG due to financial difficulties.[2] Botev's opponents were awarded 3:0 wins by default during the second half of the season.


After the financial collapse of the club in 2010, Botev Plovdiv was relegated to the amateur Bulgarian V Group for the 2010–11 season. Eventually the club was completely rebuilt on an administrative level, but also featured several Bulgarian players with first league and international experience such as striker Atanas Kurdov, midfielder Todor Timonov, captain Nikolay Manchev, and goalkeeper Armen Ambartsumyan. Botev finished as champions in their regional third division with 37 wins and one draw, at a total of 112 points. The club eventually secured promotion to the second tier of Bulgarian football, the B Group.

For the new season the club hired a new coach, Petar Houbchev, who had previous international experience both as a player and coach, succeeding Kostadin Vidolov. The lack of good results however (3 wins, 5 draws, 1 loss), saw Hubchev sacked from his position in October 2011. Botev reached an agreement with a new head coach – Milen Radukanov, who didn't show good results either, as the team had only one win, alongside 4 draws and 2 losses. Kostadin Vidolov returned at the helm of the club and succeeded in gaining promotion to the Bulgarian top-tier after a play-off win against FC Sportist Svoge.

In the 2012–13 A Group, after the appointment of Stanimir Stoilov as head coach, the team gradually started to show good performances and earned the 4th place in the Bulgarian highest football tier. Promising youngster Todor Nedelev and veteran Ivan Cvetkov led the club to victories against some of the top teams of Bulgarian football such as Levski Sofia and Litex Lovech at home. Though only the first three teams of A Group qualified for the UEFA tournaments, the fourth-ranked Botev was allowed to participate in the UEFA Europa League tournament, taking the place of the at that time financially struggling team of CSKA Sofia. The first qualifying round match against Kazakhstani side FC Astana in the first qualifying round of the tournament marked the return of Botev on the European scene, as the club lay dormant on the European stage for 17 years. In the first leg, played in Astana, Botev secured a 1–0 victory. In the second leg, played at Lazur, Botev won 5-0, thus eliminating Astana with a combined score of 6-0. In the second qualifying round the club faced HŠK Zrinjski Mostar and with a 1–1 draw in the first leg in Mostar, and a 2–0 victory in the second leg, Botev eliminated the team from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the third qualifying round the Bulgarian team faced German club VfB Stuttgart. With results of 1–1 in Bulgaria and 0–0 in Germany, Botev was subsequently eliminated due to the away goal rule, exiting undefeated from the European club competitions.

2013–14 A Group started excellent for the team, but in the beginning of the second quarter Botev slid down from the top spots, experiencing a minor crisis, because of several injured players.

On 24 May 2017, Botev Plovdiv won their 3rd Bulgarian cup title in a 2–1 win against Ludogorets Razgrad,[3][4][5] by doing so the club secured a spot in the Europa League first qualifying round.[6]



Bulgarian State Football Championship/A Group:

Bulgarian Cup:

Bulgarian Supercup:

Cup of the Soviet Army: (secondary cup)

Trimontzium Cup:

  • Winners (4): 1943, 1984, 1987, 1989 (as Trakia Plovdiv)


Balkans Cup:

  • Winners: 1972
  • Runners-up: 1981

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup:

European record[edit]

Competition S P W D L GF GA GD
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 2 4 1 0 3 4 9 - 5
Balkans Cup 2 10 4 1 5 25 25 0
Cup Winners' Cup / UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 3 12 6 2 4 23 18 + 5
Intertoto Cup 2 10 3 1 6 19 17 + 2
European Cup / UEFA Champions League 2 4 1 0 3 5 8 - 3
UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League 9 28 10 9 9 44 35 + 9
Total 20 68 25 13 30 120 112 + 8

UEFA ranking[edit]

As of 15 September 2016[8]
Rank Team Points
273 Bulgaria PFC Beroe Stara Zagora 4.475
274 Belarus FC Neman Grodno 4.475
275 Bulgaria PFC Botev Plovdiv 4.475
276 Belarus FC Naftan Novopolotsk 4.475
277 Liechtenstein FC Vaduz 4.450


Entrance to the Botev Stadium with the Hristo Botyov bust

In 1959, the authorities allowed the construction of a new club stadium at the place of the old field in the neighborhood of Kamenitza. The first building works began on 21 July 1959. Two years later, Botev Plovdiv returned to The College. On May 14, 1961 the reconstructed stadium was inaugurated. The prime minister – Anton Yugov – attended the celebrations together with the deputy-minister of the defence Dobri Djurov and most of the communist leaders. The celebrations ended with a friendly match against FC Steaua Bucureşti won by the yellow-blacks with 3:0.

For more than 30 years, no big repairs were done on the College. In 1993, during the presidency of Hristo Danov, some serious repairs were made. The visitors's changing room was moved to the eastern part of the stadium. A tunnel under the East and the North stand was built to connect the visitors’ changing room with the field and the capacity of the stadium was reduced. In 1995 electric lighting was put in, but ironically it did not reach the standards of the Bulgarian Football Union.

In the years from 1926 to 1947, Botev played six international games on the ground – two wins, three losses and one draw. The matches were played against Admira Vienna (1:7), Kecskemét (3:2 and 2:4), Beşiktaş (0:0), Bohemians Prague (1:3) and the famous "Wonderteam" of Austria Vienna (sensational win with 5:4) respectively. The attendance record was set on February 27, 1963 during the quarter-final of the Cup Winner's Cup against Atlético Madrid (1:1) – 40,000 people. The record for the Bulgarian championship was set in 1966 against Levski Sofia(0:1) – 37,000 people, but because of the riots between the fans and the rush of fans on the field, Botev Plovdiv was forced to play its derbies at "The Big House" – the City Stadium.

Several times, the stadium was used for football matches from the city rivals from Lokomotiv Plovdiv. During the second half of the 1980/81 season, "The Smurfs" (Lokomotiv Plovdiv) played their home matches on The College (which was followed by a relegation in the second division) as well as one match in the 2003/04 season (when Lokomotiv won the A PFG for the first time). Spartak Plovdiv also used the stadium for several matches during the 1995/1996 season. The stadium has also hosted the Bulgarian Cup final in 2000, when Levski Sofia won the cup after 2:0 against Naftex Burgas.

In the summer of 2008, the stadium underwent renovations to meet the requirements of the Football Union, the Central Stand was renovated and the new visitors's changing room was built under it.

On March 26, 2012 began a major reconstruction of the stadium, starting with conceptual design by architect Georgi Savov and supported by the new owner of the team Tzvetan Vassilev. According to estimates construction will consume about 15 million euro, and the facility must be ready for operation by mid 2015 just in time to host matches at the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The reconstruction will be carried out in two phases, the first starting from the end of March 2012 and will last four months. The first stage consists in the replacement of the field, which will have modern drainage system and heating system . The field will be measuring 68x105 meters. Second stage consists of the demolishing of the four old tribunes and building of new ones closer to the football field.

On home matchdays, Botev Plovdiv's players traditionally enter the pitch to the Blue Canary tune (by Marisa Fiordaliso and Carlo Buti) before the start of a game.

Supporters and rivalries[edit]

Botev Plovdiv has maintained a strong support over the years and the club's ultras group is known as Bultras.[9]

Botev's eternal rival is the neighbouring city club of Lokomotiv Plovdiv, and both form the local Plovdiv derby. The two teams are the most supported ones in the second largest city in Bulgaria – Plovdiv – and the matches between them are well known to the Bulgarian football community, and also considered to be one of the fiercest rivalries in the world.[10] Botev is the country's oldest continuously existing team, whereas Lokomotiv grew popular fanbase in the 70s. Traditionally, Lokomotiv's team drew support from the lower working class of society, whereas Botev's fanbase consisted mainly of the middle and upper classes, although that no longer applies.[11]

Botev's regional cross-city rival is Beroe Stara Zagora. The match between the two clubs was dubbed as the "Thracian Derby" over the years.

The club also has a strong rivalry with Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia, as the three of which compete to be the most popular team in the country.

Internationally, the Bultras maintain a good relationship with Greek Aris Thessaloniki fan club SUPER 3.


Botev's first kit.

The colours of the club are golden yellow and black, which were adopted in 1917. Among the fans, there are two unofficial rumours about how the colours were chosen.

The first one states that yellow and black is a symbol of the unity between the catholic collegians (golden yellow) and the orthodox schoolfellows (black) as the club's stadium – Hristo Botev was built in close proximity within the Catholic College of Plovdiv.

The second one goes by the saying, that the founders of the club were inspired by several Austrian clubs's organisation during the time and that they took the colors of the Austro-Hungarian imperial flag (also the first club badge was very similar to the SK Rapid Wien crest).

Club's motto[edit]

Botev Plovdiv's motto is: Beauty, faith and fight (Bulgarian: Красота,вяра и борба; pronounced:/crɐsɔtɐ,vʝarɐ i bɔrbɐ/).

Kit history[edit]

A part of Botev's kit history

Current squad[edit]

As of 23 February 2017 Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
2 Bulgaria DF Tsvetomir Panov
3 Bulgaria DF Atanas Tasholov
4 Bulgaria DF Viktor Genev
5 Bulgaria DF Kristian Dimitrov
7 Brazil MF Felipe Brisola
8 Bulgaria MF Todor Nedelev (on loan from Mainz 05)
9 Brazil FW Fernando Viana
10 Bulgaria MF Serkan Yusein
11 Bulgaria FW Kristian Dobrev
13 Bulgaria FW Ismet Ramadan
14 Ivory Coast MF Yaya Meledje
15 Bulgaria FW Ivan Kirev
17 Bulgaria MF Lachezar Baltanov (captain)
No. Position Player
18 Bulgaria DF Radoslav Terziev
19 Bulgaria FW Boris Tyutyukov
20 France FW Omar Kossoko
21 Bulgaria GK Martin Dimitrov
22 Bulgaria GK Georgi Georgiev
23 Bulgaria MF Petar Chalakov
24 Bulgaria DF Lazar Marin
25 Bulgaria DF Krum Stoyanov
26 Bulgaria MF Radoslav Apostolov
39 Bulgaria MF Antonio Vutov (on loan from Udinese)
77 Bulgaria MF Milko Georgiev
99 Bulgaria GK Ivan Čvorović
Bulgaria DF Plamen Dimov

For recent transfers, see Transfers winter 2016–17 and Transfers summer 2017.

Retired Numbers[edit]

  • 12 Number Retired For The Fans

Out on loan[edit]

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

No. Position Player
3 Bulgaria DF Georgi Kupenov (at Septemvri Sofia until 30 June 2017)

Foreign players[edit]

Up to five non-EU nationals can be registered and given a squad number for the first team in the A PFG 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 5 years.

EU Nationals

(Dual citizenship)

Non-EU Nationals

Player of the year[edit]

Year Winner
2010–11 Bulgaria Atanas Kurdov
2011–12 Bulgaria Aleksandar Aleksandrov
2012–13 Bulgaria Ivan Tsvetkov
2013–14 Poland Adam Stachowiak
2014–15 Bulgaria Lachezar Baltanov
2015–16 Bulgaria Lachezar Baltanov

Past seasons[edit]

League positions[edit]

First Professional Football League (Bulgaria) Bulgarian A Football Group Bulgarian B Football Group Bulgarian V AFG Bulgarian A Football Group Bulgarian B Football Group Bulgarian A Football Group Bulgarian B Football Group Bulgarian A Football Group

Past Seasons[edit]

Season League Place W D L GF GA Pts Bulgarian Cup
2006–07 A group 10 11 4 15 41 45 37 Round of 16
2007–08 A group 12 8 6 16 36 54 30 Semifinals
2008–09 A group 13 8 6 16 31 50 30 Round of 32
2009–10 A Group (I) 16 1 4 25 12 78 1* Round of 32
2010–11 V Group (III) 1 37 1 0 127 15 112 not qualified
2011–12 B Group (II) 2 14 9 4 40 17 51 Quarterfinals
2012–13 A Group (I) 4 18 6 6 51 21 60 Round of 16
2013–14 A Group 4 18 11 9 57 32 65 Runner-up
2014–15 A Group 6 12 6 14 38 39 42 Round of 32
2015–16 A Group 7 8 9 15 27 44 33 Round of 32
2016–17 Parva Liga 8 13 5 14 51 50 44 Winners
Green marks a season followed by promotion, red a season followed by relegation.

Managerial history[edit]

List of the last ten Botev Plovdiv managers.

Name Nat From To Honours
Ferario Spasov Bulgaria 5 June 2012 10 December 2012
Kostadin Vidolov* Bulgaria 11 December 2012 1 January 2013
Stanimir Stoilov Bulgaria 1 January 2013 4 June 2014
Lyuboslav Penev Bulgaria 6 June 2014 7 July 2014
Velislav Vutsov Bulgaria 8 July 2014 3 December 2014
Petar Penchev Bulgaria 3 December 2014 29 July 2015
Ermin Šiljak Slovenia 29 July 2015 10 November 2015
Nikolay Kostov Bulgaria 11 November 2015 24 August 2016
Nikolay Mitov Bulgaria 30 August 2016 30 August 2016
Nikolay Kirov Bulgaria 1 September 2016 present 1 Bulgarian Cup
* Served as caretaker manager.


Chairman Nat From To
Stoyan Puhtev Bulgaria 1912 1922
Ivan Nikiforov Bulgaria 1922 1923
Georgui Hitrilov Bulgaria 1923 1926
Hristo Kanchev Bulgaria 1926 1944
Stoyo Seizov Bulgaria 1944 1947
Dimitar Ganchev Bulgaria 1947 1953
Dimitar Vangelov Bulgaria 1953 1960
Yovcho Yovchev Bulgaria 1960 1964
Stanko Stankov Bulgaria 1964 1972
Kiril Asparuhov Bulgaria 1972 13.09.1990
Chairman Nat From To
Viden Apostolov Bulgaria 13.09.1990 01.10.1992
Petar Baldzhiev Bulgaria 01.10.1992 16.01.1993
Hristo Danov Bulgaria 16.01.1993 04.01.1995
Mihail Markachev Bulgaria 04.01.1995 14.10.1996
Georgi Chakarov Bulgaria 14.10.1996 16.09.1997
Petko Muravenov Bulgaria 16.09.1997 26.11.1997
Vassil Koritarev Bulgaria 26.11.1997 16.12.1997
Vasko Ninov Bulgaria 16.12.1997 16.03.1999
Dimitar Hristolov Bulgaria 19.03.1999 29.04.2010
Marin Bakalov Bulgaria 29.04.2010 30.10.2011
Yuli Popov Bulgaria 31.10.2011 19.03.2014
Ivan Dzhidzhev Bulgaria 19.03.2014 07.07.2015

Notable stats[edit]

Note: For a complete list of Botev Plovdiv players, see Category:PFC Botev Plovdiv players.


External links[edit]