FC Arda Kardzhali

FC Arda 1924 Kardzhali (Bulgarian: ПФК Арда Кърджали) is a Bulgarian association football club based in Kardzhali, which currently competes in the First League, the top tier of the Bulgarian football league system.

Arda Kardzhali
FC Arda logo 2018.png
Full nameProfessional Football Club Arda 1924 Kardzhali
Nickname(s)Сините вълци (The Blue Wolves)
Господарите на Родопите (The Lords of the Rhodopes)
Short nameArda
FoundedAugust 10, 1924; 97 years ago (1924-08-10) as Rodopski Sokol
GroundArena Arda, Kardzhali
OwnerPSI Group
ChairmanPetar Peshev
Head coachStamen Belchev
LeagueFirst League
2020–21First League, 4th of 14
WebsiteClub website
Current season

It was founded on 13 October 1924, as an association football branch of a larger sports society in the town. The club was reestablished in 2015, after its former entity was dissolved.

Named after the Arda river, a tributary of the Maritsa, Arda's home ground is the Arena Arda in Kardzhali, which has a capacity of 15,000 spectators. For the majority of its existence, the club regularly participated in the Second League, with its highest-ever ranking a second-place finish during the 1955–56 Bulgarian Second League. Arda have also reached the quarter-finals of the Bulgarian Cup once, it happened during the 1959–60 season of the competition.

PFC Arda by BISO 2021.jpg

In 2018–19, Arda won the Second League promotion play-off against Septemvri Sofia, resulting in the club's first-ever appearance in the Bulgarian top division.


First Arda team (1924–2013)Edit

Arda was established on August 10, 1924 under the name Rodopski Sokol, but later took the name Arda, derived from the nearby Arda River.[1] From 1945 to 1957 the team was named Minyor until a year later when the previous name was put in use again. In 1956, the club finished as a runner-up in the B Group. They also reached the quarter-finals of the Bulgarian Cup during the 1959–60 campaign of the competition. In 1988 they secured the third place in the B Group. The Kardzhali club spend most of its time in the second and third levels of Bulgarian football, before getting dissolved in 2013 due to financial troubles.

Refounding (2015–2017)Edit

The team suffered relegation from the V Group in 2013 and didn't compete in any league division until 2015 when they returned to the A Regional Group after reestablishment. In 2016, Arda achieved promotion to the Bulgarian Third League after a successful season and a 3–0 win in the play-off match against Lyubimets.[2]

PSI Group ownership and promotion to the elite (2017–present)Edit

In early June 2017, the club was purchased by Bulgarian road construction company PSI Group, in an attempt to develop a football project, inspired by the domestic and international success of Ludogorets.[3] Two weeks later, former Levski Sofia player Elin Topuzakov was appointed as head coach and Emil Kremenliev was hired as sporting director.[4] Subsequently, Petar Peshev was elected chairman of the club and was revealed that the new ownership would invest around €1 million in new signings, salaries and infrastructure around the stadium during the following South-East Third League season.[5] All of this led to an amateur double during the 2017–18 season, as Arda won both its group and the Cup of Bulgarian Amateur Football League, resulting in a promotion to the Bulgarian Second League.[6]

After the unsatisfactory results in the first 5 rounds, Elin Topuzakov was released as a manager and Stoycho Stoev was appointed,[7] but on 6 March 2019 Stamen Belchev was appointed as the new manager, after Stoev reached an agreement with the Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad. The team improved greatly, eventually managing a 3rd-place finish, enabling them to participate in the play-offs against relegation-avoider PFC Septemvri Sofia to enter the top level of Bulgarian football. Arda eventually managed to win 0–1 over Septemvri at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Plovdiv, thus resulting in the club's first-time ever participation in the Bulgarian First League.[8]

First Seasons in the Elite and Bulgarian Cup FinalEdit

Arda's first match in the Bulgarian top tier resulted in a 0–0 home draw against Botev Plovdiv. This was followed by an away 0–0 draw to Tsarsko Selo. Arda's first win came in the third round, when the team managed to beat Beroe Stara Zagora 3–1 at home. The game remained 1-1 up until the 90th minute, when Elisha Sam scored two goals in three minutes to give Arda the win. Arda then won their first away game in the top league, by beating Vitosa Bistritsa 1–3, extending their unbeaten run to four games. At the end of the first half of the season in December, Arda was in seventh place in the league, with seven wins, seven draws, and six losses. At the end of the regular season in June, Arda was in the relegation group. Despite this, on June 20, Arda mathematically secured their place in the First League for the upcoming season, after Botev Plovdiv beat Botev Vratsa 3–2.

Arda reached the final of the 2020–21 Bulgarian Cup, their first-ever participation at a final of the domestic cup. Arda faced CSKA Sofia, and lost by 1-0, in a closely fought game. A few days later, the team won the Europa Conference League play-off against Cherno More Varna and qualified for European tournament for first time in their history.[9]


First League

Second League

  • Runners-up (1): 1955–56
  • Third place (2): 1987–88, 2018–19

Third League

A Regional Group

  • Winners (1): 2015–16

Bulgarian Cup

Cup of Bulgarian Amateur Football League

  • Winners (1): 2017–18


First-team squadEdit

As of 13 January 2022[10]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   BUL Hristiyan Vasilev
4 DF   BUL Milen Stoev
5 DF   BUL Petko Ganev
8 DF   BUL Milen Zhelev
10 FW   BUL Svetoslav Kovachev
11 MF   BUL Aleksandar Georgiev
17 FW   BUL Ivan Kokonov
19 MF   BUL Rumen Rumenov
24 DF   BUL Alex Petkov
25 DF   BEN David Kiki
No. Pos. Nation Player
29 FW   BUL Georgi Atanasov
33 MF   BUL Ivan Tilev
36 GK   BUL Vasil Simeonov
70 MF   BUL Hristo Ivanov
77 MF   BUL Iliya Yurukov
79 DF   BUL Radoslav Uzunov
80 MF   BUL Lachezar Kotev
81 DF   BUL Atanas Zehirov
98 FW   BUL Tonislav Yordanov

For recent transfers, see Transfers winter 2020–21 and Transfers summer 2021.

Out on loanEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   BUL Martin Kostadinov (at Botev Vratsa until 31 May 2022)[11]

Foreign playersEdit

Up to five non-EU nationals can be registered and given a squad number for the first team in the Bulgarian First League; however, only three can be used in a match day. Those non-EU nationals with European ancestry can claim citizenship from the nation their ancestors came from. If a player does not have European ancestry he can claim Bulgarian citizenship after playing in Bulgaria for 5 years.

EU Nationals

EU Nationals (Dual citizenship)

Non-EU Nationals

  •   Slobodan Rubežić

Notable PlayersEdit

The footballers enlisted below have international caps for their respective countries or more than 100 caps for Arda. Players whose name is listed in bold represented their countries.

European recordEdit

As of match played 29 July 2021
Competition Played Won Drew Lost GF GA GD Win%
UEFA Europa Conference League 2 0 0 2 0 6 −6 000.00
Total 2 0 0 2 0 6 −6 000.00


Season Competition Round Club Home Away Aggregate
2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League 2Q   Hapoel Be'er Sheva 0–2 0–4 0–6

Records and notable statsEdit

Club RecordsEdit

  • Biggest home win in First League: Arda Kardzhali 3–0 Montana (28 November 2020)
  • Biggest away win in First League: Vitosha Bistritsa 1–3 Arda Kardzhali (2 August 2019)
  • Biggest home loss in First League: Arda Kardzhali 2–5 Lokomotiv Plovdiv (11 August 2019)
  • Biggest away loss in First League: Tsarsko Selo 4–0 Arda Kardzhali (25 April 2021)
  • Unbeaten streak in First League (single season): 11 (2020–21)
  • Most consecutive wins in First League (single season): 3 (2020–21)


Board of directorsEdit

Position Name Nationality
President Eng. Petar Peshev  
Director of Football Galabin Vasilev


Director of Sports Administration Stanimir Nikolov  
Administrator Eray Salif  

Current technical bodyEdit

Position Name Nationality
Head Coach Stamen Belchev  
Assistant Coach Emil Kremenliev  
Goalkeeper coach Todor Popov  
Conditioning Coach Anton Donchev  

Manager historyEdit

Name Nat From To Honours
Alekber Kamber   2015 13 September 2017
Elin Topuzakov   14 September 2017 26 August 2018
Stoycho Stoev   26 August 2018 6 March 2019
Stamen Belchev   6 March 2019 14 April 2020
Nikolay Kirov   15 April 2020 3 September 2021
Georgi Chilikov   8 September 2021 9 November 2021
Slavko Matić   12 November 2021 16 December 2021
Stamen Belchev   23 December 2021


League positionsEdit

First Professional Football League (Bulgaria)Second Professional Football League (Bulgaria)Third Amateur Football League (Bulgaria)Regional Amateur Football Groups (Bulgaria)Bulgarian V AFG

Past seasonsEdit

Season League Place W D L GF GA Pts Bulgarian Cup
2015–16 A RFG (IV) 1 7 0 1 45 7 21 Not qualified
2016–17 Third League (III) 16 11 6 17 49 69 39 Not qualified
2017–18 Third League 1 30 4 0 142 7 94 Not qualified
2018–19 Second League (II) 1 19 5 6 44 18 62 Round of 32
2019–20 First League (I) 9 8 11 11 28 36 35 Round of 16
2020–21 First League 4 13 11 7 42 37 50 Runners-up
2021–22 First League Qualified
Green marks a season followed by promotion, red a season followed by relegation.


  1. ^ История на клуба
  2. ^ Арда (Кърджали) се върна в Трета лига
  3. ^ Готви се грандиозен проект в Кърджали, Топузаков и легенда от САЩ '94 поемат клуба
  4. ^ Топузаков потвърди за треньорския пост в Арда Кърджали
  5. ^ Силният човек на новия хит в БГ футбол за плановете на клуба и защо е избрал Топузаков
  6. ^ Драма във Велико Търново! Арда направи дубъл в аматьорския футбол
  7. ^ Арда освободи Топузаков, сериозно име пое отбора
  8. ^ Стамен Белчев пое Арда
  9. ^ Историческа вечер за Кърджали! Арда срази Черно море и ще дебютира в Европа
  10. ^ "Играчи : Арда". fcarda.bg. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  11. ^ Ботев Враца обяви още един трансфер

External linksEdit