Reform of Bulgarian football leagues (2016)
Commissioned by the Bulgarian Football Association (BFU), Hypercube has investigated possible improvements for both A PFG and B PFG, the two highest football levels in Bulgaria. Partly based on Hypercube’s research and advice, a new competition format has been unanimously chosen. A PFG consists of fourteen teams as of the 2016/17 season, while B PFG has continued to consist of sixteen teams.
Case for action
CSKA Sofia and Lokomotiv Sofia have lost their professional football license and Litex Lovech has been barred from participating after the players have stepped off the field in protest of the referee’s decisions. With that, the 2015/16 season of A PFG ended with only 9 teams. During a strategy meeting it was decided that from 2016/17 there will be a newly designed A PFG, which provides access to all clubs (from A PFG, B PFG and the top four spots in V AFG) that meet the license requirements. In the end, 15 teams got a license and therefore a format had to be developed for 14 teams. BFU has asked Hypercube to support this.
Hypercube has spoken with many stakeholders about how they think the A PFG and B PFG can be improved. In addition to clubs and players, this includes media, fans and even the Minister of Sports. Subsequently, based on data analyzes, the critical success factors of Bulgarian football were investigated and a multitude of alternative competition formats were assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Optimal competition format
The investigation has shown that the A PFG should be expanded from to fourteen teams. In addition, entering a second phase is crucial. This gives more top matches and more exciting matches in the middle and bottom. Exciting matches attract more public attention, which in turn increases the sponsorship value and thus the financial space of the clubs. More financial space will again benefit the sporty quality. In addition, playing more top matches means that top clubs and talents will have the opportunity to gain experience in playing important matches. Taking this experience into account in European competitions.
The Bulgarian clubs have unanimously chosen the competition format proposed by Hypercube for the A PFG. The fourteen A PFG teams meet twice (home and away) in the first phase of the competition. The top six then compete in the second phase to decide who wins the championship and who qualifies for the qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. The other eight teams meet in the second phase in two groups of four teams, the top two of which qualify for play-offs for the last European starting ticket. The winner of these playoffs, together with the number three in the championship pool, will determine who may represent Bulgaria in Europe. The fight against relegation erupts between the four losers in the groups of four teams, who hit each other and the number two and three of the B PFG in a knockout system.