SOFIA Levski Sofia's attempt to sell four key players to Russian champions Rubin Kazan over the weekend has made the Bulgarian champions into a laughing stock, local media reported on Monday.
Levski lost 2-0 to league leaders and local arch-rivals CSKA Sofia on Sunday in the absence of the quartet.
Trud, one of Bulgaria's most popular newspapers, called Levski "a laughing stock" after what it described as "a unique nonsense".
Bulgaria right back Zhivko Milanov, Morocco central defender Youssef Rabeh, Macedonia midfielder Darko Tasevski and Brazilian winger Ze Soares flew to Moscow on Saturday to join Rubin.
Levski chief executive Konstantin Bazhdekov told reporters there was "an agreement in principle" with Rubin but the four players returned to Sofia without signing contracts.
"You have to ask the management for the deal failure," Tasevski told btv. "I have no idea. I feel oppressed and I'm angry. Things could've been different if we played against CSKA."
Bazhdekov was also disappointed.
"It seems like someone played a dirty trick on us," he said.
The club's disgruntled fans turned on the management.
"It's a sheer madness and incompetence," Levski supporter Valentin Denev said. "We gave the title away in the most stupid way. They made us look as the idiots of Europe."
Levski slipped to eighth in the standings with nine points from five matches. CSKA top the table with 16 points from six games.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ed Osmond)