Sofia - CSKA Sofia have issued a desperate plea to their supporters to provide emergency financial backing to avoid expulsion from the Bulgarian top division over debts, the club said on Thursday.
"Today, we're launching a campaign to collect funds to save the licence of CSKA," the 31-times Bulgarian champions, who have never been relegated, said in a statement.
"The required amount is one million levs ($556,390)."
CSKA need to pay money to the National Social Security Institute and the National Revenue Agency as well as wages and compensation to former players and coaches by March 31 to meet the Bulgarian Football Union's (BFU) licensing criteria.
CSKA urged fans to make donations in the next few days.
"The management will do everything in its power to prevent the collapse of CSKA," the club said. "But we may not be able to cope by ourselves. It's time for CSKA to unite as a fist... and say we'll not surrender!"
The Reds, who have reached the semi-finals in two European Cup campaigns (1967 and 1981) and a European Cup Winners' Cup (1989), would have to play in the Balkan country's amateur championship if they failed to settle the debts.
Despite being dogged by financial problems, CSKA topped the league after the first half of the season.
However, after the winter break they failed to score in four successive matches, earning only a point, which allowed champions Ludogorets to leapfrog them at the top.
Ludogorets, who have 48 points, host CSKA, who are three points behind, in the next round of matches on April 4.
Bulgarian clubs are struggling to meet administrative, legal and financial conditions set by European soccer's governing body UEFA.
Several clubs from the two professional divisions, including CSKA's bitter city rivals Levski Sofia, are running out of time to avoid losing their licences.
Players at top-flight club Lokomotiv Plovdiv have refused to train for the last two days over unpaid wages.