PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. Liverpool’s five-year exile from the Champions League ends tomorrow with the visit of Bulgarian champions PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. Let’s call them Ludogorets.
Oh Ludogorets, what a name.
You, Ludogorets, are exactly what the Champions League should be about. The team you’ve never heard of from a far-flung pocket of eastern Europe, the complete unknowns in this competition of over-familiarity, glitter and glitz. A town with a population of 33,000 and a club which was formed the year Liverpool won the treble with a stadium capacity of 8,000. Situated in the north east of Bulgaria and some 600km west of the Black Sea, Razgrad is a 31-hour drive from Liverpool.
These Bulgarian champions are vintage European opposition from a bygone era. The story of how they got here, though, is a more modern tale.
The club was founded in 2001 as Ludogorie Football Club, but adopted its current name after one of the city’s first football clubs, formed in 1945, was dissolved in 2006, and acquired the license of Ludogorets 1945 Razgrad four years ago. The club is named after the region of Razgrad in which it is located, the “region of wild forests”.