Fans of Bulgaria's Levski Back Manager in Row with Chairman

Sports | December 4, 2007, Tuesday // 00:00

Fans of Bulgaria's defending football champions Levski Sofia backed manager Stanimir Stoilov, who resigned after Sunday's loss to arch-rivals CSKA.

Stoilov and sports director Nasko Sirakov submitted their resignations at the request of club chairman Todor Batkov on Monday, which sparked unrest among a large number of fans.

One group of ultras went as far as to publish a statement, in which they accused some of the players for not trying enough, but backed Stoilov and Sirakov to stay at the helm of the club, warning Batkov against sacking the duo.

Stoilov himself got a phone call from Batkov on Monday and appeared calmer than before submitting his resignation, although he did not preside over Levski's training.

"It's normal for a manager to shoulder the blame when things are not going well. I can learn from my mistakes and if we continue working together, I will do my best to set them right," Stoilov told reporters.

"I won't impose conditions, but if we reach consensus, I will gladly continue working for Levski," he added.

Stoilov is Levski's longest serving manager since the fall of communism in 1989 and is now in his fourth season with the club for whom he played 258 matches in three spells at the club, scoring 51 goals.

With local FA chief Borislav Mihaylov keen to recruit Stoilov to take over the national team, he is unlikely to remain long out of a job.

The simmering tension between Batkov and Sirakov, however, might be harder to defuse, although Sirakov, another playing legend for the club, scoring 165 goals in 205 games, has vowed not to cause any unrest.

"My deal with Batkov was that I will do my best as long as he thinks I am helping the club, until he thinks otherwise. I am sick of leaving Levski with a scandal - if it happens again, I'd like it to be civilised," Sirakov said.

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