Football - Soccer-CSKA Sofia and Litex discuss possible merger

SOFIA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Top Bulgarian clubs CSKA Sofia and Litex Lovech have discussed a possible merger in an attempt to save costs, CSKA president Dimitar Borisov said on Wednesday.

Reuters

"Negotiations with (Litex owner) Grisha Ganchev continue," Borisov told bTV in an extensive interview. "Merger of two clubs is not so easy. It's not known whether it will happen now or in the summer but it is likely to happen."

However, a Bulgarian Football Union official told Reuters that a merger could not happen during the season while Litex made no comment.

CSKA, who are the most successful club in Bulgaria with 31 league titles, are struggling financially and have just escaped a three-year European ban by Europe's soccer governing body UEFA over debts last year.

"Personally, I'm tired, it (CSKA) cost me a lot of nerves," added Borisov, who is also one of the club's owners. "We made a lot of mistakes, managing the club and I hope we'll learn from them."

Many Bulgarian clubs are facing infrastructure difficulties and are struggling to meet administrative, legal and financial conditions laid down by UEFA.

CSKA chiefs fell out with die-hard supporters, who accused them of incompetence and called on them to quit. In September, angry CSKA fans set up a road blockade to protest against the owners and even asked the government for help.

CSKA reached semi-finals in Europe three times between 1967 and 1989 but have struggled to revive their success recently and have not won the league title since 2008.

The Reds were barred from the Champions League in 2008-09 after failing to meet the licencing criteria.

The Sofia-based club are fourth in the standings with 29 points from 15 matches, level on points with third-placed Litex and nine points behind leaders Ludogorets.

Litex, coached by former European Footballer of the Year and former CSKA player Hristo Stoichkov, are based in Lovech, a town, located about 150 kms north-east from the capital Sofia. Lovech has a population under 40,000.

Since 1996, when the club was bought by Ganchev, Litex won four league titles and four national Cups and became regular participants in the European competitions.

Ganchev, one of Bulgaria's richest businessmen, was on the verge of purchasing CSKA several times in recent years.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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