SOFIA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia have been given until the end of September to pay off their debts or face a three-year European ban, imposed by UEFA, the domestic football federation (BFU) said on Wednesday.
"UEFA's Control Panel gave CSKA Sofia a deadline of Sept. 30, 2012, to clear their liabilities," the BFU said in a statement after receiving a letter from the European soccer's governing body.
"Thereafter, CSKA will not be able to protect their licence for the European club competitions for the next three years."
CSKA were supervised by UEFA in recent months and their representatives conducted an audit of the club last week.
Earlier this month, BFU's president Borislav Mihaylov, who is also a UEFA Executive Committee member, warned CSKA of being in danger of being excluded from European competitions for the second time in four years because of debts.
The Reds, who are Bulgaria's most successful club with 31 league titles, were barred from the Champions League in 2008-09 after failing to meet the licensing criteria.
CSKA owe transfer sums to clubs and players as well as money to the state and creditors, estimated by local media to be almost 80 million levs ($53.02 million).
CSKA were not immediately available to comment but a source close to the club told Reuters "it'll be extremely difficult for CSKA to pay off their debts in such a short period."
In July, CSKA were handed a transfer ban until Aug. 31 by the BFU over the signing of the Madagascar international Anicet from Chernomorets Burgas.
CSKA reached semi-finals in Europe three times between 1967 and 1989 but have struggled to revive their success in recent years and have not won the domestic title since 2008.
CSKA are eighth in the Bulgarian league standings with eight points from six games, 10 points behind bitter city rivals Levski and champions Ludogorets.
$1 = 1.5088 Bulgarian levs Reporting by Angel Krasimirov