SOFIA, May 30 (Reuters) - Bulgarian club Botev Plovdiv have been ordered to play their next three home games behind closed doors following crowd trouble in the domestic cup final against champions Ludogorets earlier this month.
The punishment, handed down by the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) disciplinary commission on Friday, will come into effect for Botev’s first three league matches next season.
The BFU also fined the Plovdiv-based club 14,000 levs ($9,700) after Ludogorets players were pelted with seats and stones during a pitch invasion in their 1-0 win in the Black Sea town of Burgas on May 15.
The match was interrupted for more than 17 minutes, soon after Slovenia striker Roman Bezjak scored the winning goal, when Botev fans threw flares on to the pitch before a fire truck had to be quickly deployed to douse the flames.
Botev supporters destroyed part of the perimeter fence and more than a dozen of them invaded the pitch minutes before the final whistle when the fire truck was again required to quell more flares as the Ludogorets players came under attack.
Last season Botev played one game behind closed doors after hooliganism marred their match against Litex Lovech in October. They were also ordered to play one match at a neutral ground following crowd trouble during a game against Lokomotiv Sofia in March.
Twice Bulgarian champions Botev finished fourth with 65 points from 38 matches, 19 points behind Ludogorets in the Bulgarian championship. The Canaries will play in the Europa League’s first qualifying round next season.
Violence inside and outside stadiums has plagued Bulgarian football in recent seasons, endangering the safety of players and fans.
$1 = 1.4339 Bulgarian levs Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Rex Gowar