Bulgarian club Pirin Blagoevgrad, which produced Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov, is facing explusion from the Bulgarian first division if it cannot clear its debts. Fans have offered to donate their blood to raise cash and as a way of highlighting the the club's plight. (Patients in Bulgaria in need of transfusions must pay for donated blood.)
"We're appealing for people who will use our blood to present donations to our club,” said former Pirin goalkeeper Miroslav Mitev, who first thought of the fund-raising ploy. Dozens of fans have already offered their blood. Pirin Blagoevgrad owes more than $275,000 in unpaid player and staff wages, taxes and other debts.
“It’s a shame,” Ivan Berbatov, the father of Dimitar Barbatov and also a former Pirin player. “We still have the best youth academy in the country and look what’s happening with our first team. But this is the reality. You can’t expect to survive in professional soccer without money. ... Isn’t it pathetic? Pirin still produces top-class young players but they all go and play for other teams.”
Two members of the Bulgarian team that reached the semifinals at the 1994 World Cup were from Blagoevgrad and three of the current national team’s defenders, including PSV Eindhoven’s Stanislav Manolev, are from the town.