Football

Published: Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 9:47:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 9:47:05 PM

Levski coach Petev keen to stay on despite fan hostility

SOFIA (Reuters) - Levski Sofia coach Ivaylo Petev has denied supporting another club from the city and said he was determined to stay in the post despite being forced out of his first news conference by hostile fans.

"I am a professional and I came to work for the good of Levski," Petev told local media on Wednesday. "I'll continue my work (at Levski).

Levski, the 26-times Bulgarian champions, turned to Petev after sacking Serbian coach Slavisa Jokanovic following a mediocre start to the season but the Sofia-based club's fans believe his allegiance lies with CSKA.

"I have no sympathy to another Sofia club, you can check it out," said Petev.

In an interview with local media in June, however, the 38-year-old, who led Ludogorets to two consecutive league titles, said he was a CSKA fan, adding that this had never stopped him being uncompromising against his favourite team on the pitch.

On Tuesday, angry Levski fans burst in shortly after the start of Petev's presentation to the media at the Georgi Asparuhov stadium and made him take off the club shirt before showing him the exit.

Those ugly scenes were followed by the resignations of chief executive Nasko Sirakov - a crowd favourite and the club's all-time leading scorer with 206 goals between 1981 and 1994 - and Levski's board chairman Ivo Tonev.

"This is not my Levski, and these are not our fans," said Sirakov. "It's a shame and a disgrace to the name of The Apostle (Vasil Levski)."

Levski, founded in 1914, are named after Vasil Levski, a Bulgarian revolutionary and national hero.

Club owner Todor Batkov labelled the incident a disgrace and said the club stood behind their decision to appoint Petev as coach.

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

"We'll not allow this Petev to be coach of Levski," said Vladimir Vladimirov, chairman of the team's national fan-club.

"We'll not retreat from our position. I'm not speaking on my behalf but on behalf of thousands of Levski supporters."

Many Levski fans, however, used internet forums to express their disgust at the behaviour of those who forced Petev out of the news conference.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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