Bulgaria first league
The First Professional Football League (Bulgarian: Първа професионална футболна лига), currently known as efbet League for sponsorship reasons, is a Bulgarian professional league for men's football clubs. It is at the top of the Bulgarian football league system and is the country's most important football competition. The league determines the Bulgarian champions and is contested by fourteen teams. It works on a promotion and relegation system with the second league of the Bulgarian football league pyramid, the Second League. The Bulgarian lace group, known by its former name A Group, was completely restructured in the summer of 2016 when new eligibility criteria were introduced.
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The Bulgarian football championship was opened in 1924 as the Bulgarian state football championship and since 1948, when the A group was founded, held in league format. The Champions of the First League have the right to participate in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League on the basis of the European coefficient of the league. In addition, the second team in the final score and the winner of the European playoffs will be allocated two UEFA Europa League seats. Another fourth place can be awarded to the fourth-placed team in the final ranking, as the Bulgarian cup holder landed at the end of the season among the top three teams.
A total of 67 clubs have applied in the Bulgarian top group since their foundation. For the past ten years, many teams, including current champions Ludogorets, have been featured in the league for the first time. Vereya Stara Zagora was the 67th club to participate in the competition in 2016-17. Since 1948 eleven different teams have been crowned the Bulgarian champion. The three most successful clubs are CSKA Sofia with 31 titles, Levski Sofia with 26 titles and Ludogorets Razgrad with 8 titles each. The current champions Ludogorets Razgrad won their eight consecutive titles in their eighth First League season in 2018-19.
The Bulgarian A Professional Football Group was founded in 2003. The group consisted of 16 teams, each playing twice against all the other teams, once at home and once away. In the first season of the newly created A-Group, the 2003/04 season, Lokomotiv Plovdiv won the championship for the first time in history with 75 points. In 2004/05 CSKA Sofia won the A-Group for the 30th time. In the next two seasons Levski Sofia was champion under coach Stanimir Stoilov. Since 2005/2006 the league is called A Football Group. In the 2007/08 season CSKA was for the 31st time champion of the A-group without having lost 30 games. In the summer, however, UEFA did not give the club a license to participate in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds, and Levski Sofia joined the tournament instead of CSKA. The following season, Levski Sofia won their last A-group title, one point ahead of CSKA. Later, two years in a row, Litex Lovech won two more titles, such as 1997/98 and 1998/99. In the 2011/12 season Ludogorets Razgrad was after winning the promotion of the B Group, the second team after Litex, who won in their first season, the A group.
The Bulgarian Football Federation has decided to make some changes in the format of the A Group before the 2014/15 season, with the number of teams participating in the highest league being reduced from 16 to 12.
As of the 2016/17 season, the Bulgarian Football Federation approved a new league format to improve the competitiveness, participation in matches and performance of each participating club in the league. 14 teams play in two phases, a regular season and playoffs. In the first phase, each club competes twice in the Double-Round-Robin system against every other team, with a total of 26 games per team and 26 matches. In each game in the first phase a total of 182 games are played. In the second phase, the first six teams form a European qualifying table, while the bottom eight teams participate in a relegation group. The winner of the top group is named champion of Bulgaria and awarded the title.
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