Debt issues forced Saints owner Sport Republic to drop acquisition of Bulgaria’s Levski

March 7 – Serbian Dragan Šolak, a majority shareholder in owner Sport Republic who are having a torrid time with their ownership of Southampton in the Premier League, has said that he pulled out of buying leading Bulgarian club Levski because of the huge debt the club had built up.

Sport Republic had been on the verge of buying Levski after protracted negotiations, but in the middle of February Šolak surprisingly came out with a short message and announced that the negotiations had ended and the deal had collapsed.

Šolak gave little information as to why the deal was off but hinted that debt was an issue. In an interview with Capital Weekly, he has provided more clarity around the collapse of the deal and the current financial position of Levski.

The club currently owes about BGN15 million (€7.5 million) to companies owned by the club’s former owner Vasil Bozhkov. Of this amount, BGN 8 million (€4 million) is a loan for the construction of part of the Stadium Georgi Asparuhov, and BGN 7 million (€3.5 m) is a loan from one of Bozhkov’s other companies.

Separately, Levski has over BGN 11 million BGN (€5.5 million) in debt owed to the National Revenue Agency (NRA). As a result, the NRA has already taken control of the club’s finances.

“Following the acquisition of Southampton FC at the end of 2021, I developed a strategy for a global platform of multiple football clubs. We have looked at many opportunities to acquire European football clubs as part of that strategy, including the possibility of acquiring Levski,” said Šolak.

“I can assure you that we have made serious efforts and applied all our professional expertise to successfully restructure Levski’s debts and develop a stable business model that will ensure the club’s sustainable success, as the team’s supporters and fans in Bulgaria desire.

“We invested a lot of money in bringing in experts, doing analysis and finding a solution to achieve this. But unfortunately we failed, because of the huge debt and bad debt structure, part of which is under international sanctions. We tried to find the right solution from a legal point of view, but found that no such solution could be found,” he continued.

“It is impossible to invest in the club under such conditions. I assume that the executive director of Levski Ivaylo Ivkov has done the right thing, but FC Levski, in the current situation, would not be an investment target for any serious international investor.”

Contact the writer of this story Aleksander Krassimirov at moc.l1679749329labto1679749329ofdlr1679749329owedi1679749329sni@o1679749329fni1679749329