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Stoichkov leads celebrations of CSKA's rebirth

Former Bulgarian national soccer player Hristo Stoichkov reacts. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Former Bulgarian national soccer player Hristo Stoichkov reacts. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

By Angel Krasimirov

SOFIA (Reuters) - New-look CSKA-Sofia's admission into an enlarged Bulgarian top flight was welcomed on Thursday by supporters in the Balkan country, including former great Hristo Stoichkov.

The original CSKA, who won the Bulgarian league 31 times, were demoted to the third tier last season following their financial crisis before entering insolvency.

But after a prolonged legal saga, which included a secret meeting between CSKA and Prime Minister Boiko Borisov and a merger with four-times champions Litex Lovech, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) has included them in the top division, expanded from 10 to 14 teams.

"The new club, CSKA-Sofia, have four titles," BFU executive director Borislav Popov told a news conference, referring to Litex's honours.

The new CSKA said in a statement that they would buy the old club's trophies and emblem.

Stoichkov, a former European Footballer of the Year and club shareholder, told local media: "I’m happy that CSKA are back where they belong. CSKA were born to be champions. It’s in their DNA."

Despite playing in the amateur championship -- which they won -- last season, CSKA Sofia won the domestic cup and attracted the biggest attendances in the Black Sea state.

Some fans have said they prefer to support a team playing in the lowest league but keeping their trophies and history, rather than a new club who have adopted the name.

However, the majority of fans have no such concerns.

"We just don’t care about all the legal tricks," said CSKA fan Georgi Mihaylov. "We love CSKA, there's only one CSKA. The greatest club in Bulgaria should always play in the elite echelon."

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov,; Editing by Neville Dalton)

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