The Bulgarian football league system or the Bulgarian football pyramid, is a series of interconnected leagues for club football in Bulgaria. The system has a hierarchical format with promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels, and allows even the smallest club to dream of rising to the very top of the system.

History

The first organised national tournament was founded in 1924. It was called the National championship (Bulgarian: Държавно първенство). The teams taking part in the tournament were separated in different regional divisions and the winners of each division then played for the Championship title via play-offs.

In 1948 A Republican Football Group (Bulgarian: „А“ Републиканска футболна група) was founded, a new national top division. The second level of the football league system - the B Republican Football Group (Bulgarian: „Б“ Републиканска футболна група) was founded two years later. The lower levels of the pyramid - V Republican Football Group (Bulgarian: „В“ Републиканска футболна група) and below - were structured in 1959.

This system (with minor changes during the years) existed until 2000. Then experimentally a new Bulgarian Premier Football League (Bulgarian: Висша лига по футбол) was founded replacing A Football Group. B Football Group was replaced by the new Bulgarian First Football League (Bulgarian: Първа лига по футбол). But these changes lasted for just three years - in 2003 the old A and B Football Groups were restored at the top of the football pyramid.

From 2016 the top level league name was changed to First Professional Football League and B Group name to Second Professional Football League.[1]

Structure

Currently the Bulgarian football league system consists of 55 different divisions forming 5 levels of the pyramid.:[2][3]

Level League/Group
Professional Leagues
1 First League

16 clubs
↓ 2 relegation spots + 1 relegation playoff spot

2 Second League

18 clubs
↑ 2 promotion spot + 1 promotion playoff spots
↓ 4 relegation spots

Non-professional Leagues
3 North-East Third League

15 clubs
↑ 1 promotion spot
↓ 1 relegation spot + 2 relegation playoff spots

North-West Third League

16 clubs
↑ 1 promotion spot
↓ 1 relegation spot + 3 relegation playoff spots

South-East Third League

20 clubs
↑ 1 promotion spot
↓ 2 relegation spots + 3 relegation playoff spots

South-West Third League

22 clubs
↑ 1 promotion spot
↓ 2 to 5 relegation spots

4 A OFGs
(A OFGs - A Oblast Football Groups)

39 in total (all divisions run in parallel):

  • A OFG Blagoevgrad Struma
  • A OFG Blagoevgrad Bistritsa
  • A OFG Blagoevgrad Mesta
  • A OFG Burgas
  • A OFG Varna
  • A OFG Veliko Tarnovo
  • A OFG Vidin
  • A OFG Vratsa
  • A OFG Gabrovo West
  • A OFG Gabrovo East
  • A OFG Dobrich West
  • A OFG Dobrich East
  • A OFG Kardzhali
  • A OFG Kyustendil Osogovo
  • A OFG Kyustendil Rila
  • A OFG Lovech
  • A OFG Montana
  • A OFG Pazardzhik
  • A OFG Pernik North
  • A OFG Pernik South
  • A OFG Pleven
  • A OFG Plovdiv
  • A OFG Razgrad
  • A OFG Rousse West
  • A OFG Rousse East
  • A OFG Silistra
  • A OFG Sliven
  • A OFG Smolyan
  • A OFG Sofia (capital) North
  • A OFG Sofia (capital) South
  • A OFG Sofia West
  • A OFG Sofia East
  • A OFG Stara Zagora
  • A OFG Targovishte East
  • A OFG Targovishte Middle
  • A OFG Targovishte West
  • A OFG Haskovo
  • A OFG Shumen
  • A OFG Yambol
5 B OFGs
(B OFGs - B Oblast Football Groups)

10 in total (all divisions run in parallel):

  • B OFG Burgas North
  • B OFG Burgas South
  • B OFG Veliko Tarnovo
  • B OFG Pazardzhik North
  • B OFG Pazardzhik South
  • B OFG Pleven West
  • B OFG Pleven East
  • B OFG Plovdiv North
  • B OFG Plovdiv Centre
  • B OFG Plovdiv South

References