Coach quits on first day

Levski Sofia fans (Getty Images)
Levski Sofia fans (Getty Images)

Sofia - Ivaylo Petev has made a sudden U-turn and left Levski Sofia on Wednesday, a day after being undressed and forced out of his first news conference by hostile fans of the 26-times Bulgarian champions.

The 38-year-old was expected to hold his first training session as coach after saying he was keen to continue his work at the club despite the fans' hostility but shelved his plans after reconsidering the situation and discussing it with his family.

"What happened yesterday is extremely ugly and I would not like to work in such an environment," Petev, considered to be one of the best young coaches in the Balkan country after leading Ludogorets to back-to-back league titles, told a news conference.

Angry Levski fans burst in shortly after the start of Petev's presentation to the media on Tuesday and made him take off the club's shirt before showing him the exit because they believe he is a supporter of bitter city rivals CSKA Sofia.

Levski fans were lambasted in local media for "writing the most shameful page in the club's history" but remained adamant and declared they would not allow Petev to keep his post.

Petev was quoted by local media this year as saying he was a CSKA fan, adding that this had never stopped him being uncompromising against his favourite team on the field.

Petev, sacked by Ludogorets after a surprise defeat in the opening round of the domestic championship, denied having said such a thing.

"I did not say that," he said.

"I have no sympathy to another Sofia club."

Petev was due to become Levski's fourth coach this year after former players Ilian Iliev and Nikolay Mitov, and Serbian Slavisa Jokanovic who was fired on Tuesday.

"I considered many things and I also discussed it with my family," said Petev.

"I wanted to work at Levski but I didn't expect that such a thing could happen in the 21st century.

"This is something abnormal. I'm not a criminal, I'm not a thief, but yesterday I felt exactly like that."

Levski reacted quickly and named former Levski defender Antoni Zdravkov as Petev's successor.

"The team will be coached by Antoni Zdravkov until the end of the year, at least," Levski owner Todor Batkov told reporters, adding that assistant coaches Elin Topuzakov and Marian Hristov will keep their posts.

Zdravkov, who is the head of Levski's junior academy, will make his debut in the much-anticipated "eternal derby" - as matches with CSKA are known - on October 19.

The Blues, as Levski are known in Bulgaria, are sixth in the standings with 19 points, nine behind leaders Ludogorets.

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