November 14 – Plovdiv Municipality has refused to allow the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) to use the Hristo Botev stadium for the upcoming Euro2024 qualification match against Hungary, due to be played on Thursday.
Currently no alternative venue has been appointed.
Initially, the match was supposed to be played at the Vasil Levski national stadium in Sofia, but a few days ago the BFU management surprisingly announced that the match was moved to Plovdiv on the recommendation of UEFA, and will be played behind closed doors.
That decision was taken following expected protests by the fans against the current leadership of the BFU by legendary former Bulgarian goalkeeper Borislav Mihailov, who has been at the head of the BFU for 18 years.
The Municipality of Plovdiv, which owns the Hristo Botev stadium, (pictured) said that it could not rent the facility as the stadium is currently undergoing renovations that would endanger the health of people in and around the stadium.
Hours before the decision, Mihailov told Bulgarian National Television, that if the match against Hungary cannot be held in Plovdiv, the Bulgarian FA risks severe punishment by UEFA.
“In a letter to the Bulgarian Football Union, the Municipality of Plovdiv today reaffirms its decision from Friday, namely – it is not possible to provide the BFU with the use of the Hristo Botev stadium in the period 14-16.11.2023,” said a Plovdiv Municipality statement,
“In his opinion, Iliyan Filipov, responsible for the construction of the stadium, announced that the deadlines for ending the construction activities, demobilization and bringing the construction site to a state in which it will not endanger the lives and health of citizens is too short and there is no way that can happen by the dates specified.
“All the activities are planned in advance and only comply with the programme of FC Botev Plovdiv, and there is no technological way to interrupt their implementation within the specified period. Considering everything presented and guided solely by the concern for the life and health of the citizens, the mayor of Plovdiv Kostadin Dimitrov reaffirmed the decision that the Hristo Botev stadium cannot be used by the BFU in the period 14-16 November 2023.”
This leaves the Bulgarian Football Union and Bulgaria in an unprecedented situation. Two days before the match against Hungary, it is still unclear if game will take place, and if it was played, where it could be played.
The BFU immediately began a search for an alternative stadium with the Arena Arda stadium in the city of Kardzhali being offered as an alternative.
UEFA is expected to make a decision today, November 14.
Contact the writer of this story, Aleksander Krassimirov, at moc.l1700680768labto1700680768ofdlr1700680768owedi1700680768sni@o1700680768fni1700680768