Inter-Cities Fairs Cup

The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, sometimes referred to as the European Fairs Cup,[1] or simply as the Fairs Cup, was a European football competition played between 1955 and 1971. It was the forerunner to the UEFA Cup later known as the UEFA Europa League. The competition was the idea of FIFA vice-president and executive committee member Ernst Thommen, Italian Football Federation president and FIFA executive committee member Ottorino Barassi, and the English Football Association general secretary and president of FIFA from 1961 to 1974, Stanley Rous. As the name suggests, the competition was set up to promote international trade fairs. Friendly games were regularly held between teams from cities holding trade fairs and it was from these games that the competition evolved. The competition was initially only open to teams from cities that hosted trade fairs and where these teams finished in their national league had no relevance. Early competitions also featured a one city, one team rule. After 1968, it was sometimes referred to as the Runners-up Cup, with teams now qualifying based on league position.[2][3]

Inter-Cities Fairs Cup
Founded1955; 66 years ago (1955)
Abolished1971 (rebranded)
Number of teams12 (first edition)
64 (last edition)
Related competitionsUEFA Cup (successor)
Last champions Leeds United
(2nd title)
Most successful club(s) Barcelona
(3 titles)

The cup was organised by the Fairs Cup Committee which was led by senior FIFA officials. With the support of such individuals, there was no need for the approval of the international governing bodies until 1971, when after few years of negotiations, it came under the auspices of UEFA. With new ownership came a new name (UEFA Cup), new trophy and new regulations.[4]

While the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is recognised as the predecessor to the UEFA Cup, it was not organised by UEFA. Consequently, UEFA does not consider clubs' records in the Fairs Cup to be part of their European record.[2][5] However, FIFA does view the competition as a major honour.[6]


Spanish era

The first competition was to be held over two seasons to avoid clashes with national leagues fixtures. Because it was also intended to coincide with trade fairs, it ran over into a third year. It commenced in 1955 and finished in 1958. Cities that entered teams included Barcelona, Basel, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Vienna, Cologne, Lausanne, Leipzig, London, Milan, and Zagreb. The first competition included a group stage and also featured some city representative teams instead of clubs. The eventual finalists were the city of Barcelona and a London XI. While the latter side consisted of players from 11 clubs, the former was effectively FC Barcelona with one player from RCD Espanyol. After a 22 draw at Stamford Bridge, Barcelona emerged triumphant after winning the return 60. A second tournament took place between 1958 and 1960. This time, the group stage format was abandoned in favour of a knockout tournament. Barcelona retained the cup, beating Birmingham City 41 in the final.

The third tournament was held over the course of the 196061 season and all subsequent tournaments were completed over one season. The season also saw the holders, Barcelona, compete in both the Fairs Cup and European Cup. During the early days of European competition, these tournaments were effectively rivals and there was little or no co-ordination between the administrators running them. The European Cup quickly established itself as the premier club competition, largely because it had the advantage of featuring national league champions and was completed in a single season from the very start. The efforts of Barcelona ended in failure in both competitions. In the Fairs Cup quarter-finals, they lost 76 on aggregate to Hibernian, while in the European Cup, they were beaten in the final by Benfica. Roma took three games to beat Hibernian in the semi-finals before they progressed to the final. Birmingham City reached their second final in two years but once again they were defeated. After a 22 draw at home, they lost 20 to Roma in the return.

The 196162 season saw the rules amended to allow three teams from each country to enter. The "one city, one team" rule was temporarily abandoned and two teams represented each of Edinburgh, Milan, and Barcelona (respectively Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian, Internazionale and A.C. Milan, and FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol). This increase in teams resulted in Spanish teams continuing to dominate the competition. FC Barcelona were now regularly joined by Valencia CF and Real Zaragoza. These three clubs won the competition six times between them from 1958 to 1966. The Fairs Cup saw three all-Spanish finals in 1962, 1964, and 1966. The 1962 final saw Valencia CF beat FC Barcelona 73 on aggregate and in 1963 they retained the title after beating Dinamo Zagreb with a 41 aggregate score. They reached their third final in 1964 but lost 21 to Real Zaragoza in a single game at the Camp Nou.

The 1965 tournament saw a record entry of 48 teams, testimony to the growing status of the Fairs Cup. It also produced only the second final not to feature a Spanish team. Ferencvárosi TC of Hungary beat Juventus in another single-game final. The 1966 competition attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. Chelsea were pelted with rubbish at Roma and Leeds United fought a bruising encounter with Valencia CF which ended with three dismissals. Leeds also had Johnny Giles sent off in the semi-final against Real Zaragoza. The final saw FC Barcelona beat Real Zaragoza 43 on aggregate.

Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Trophy

English era

The 1967 tournament saw the emergence of English clubs with Leeds United reaching the final. Although they lost to Dinamo Zagreb, they returned the following season and defeated Ferencvárosi TC to become the first English club to win the competition. The subsequent victories of Newcastle United and Arsenal and a second win for Leeds United saw English clubs winning the last four Fairs Cup tournaments. The last final saw Leeds United declared winners on away goals after drawing with Juventus 33 on aggregate.


In the 197172 season the competition was taken over by UEFA and relaunched as the UEFA Cup. By replacing the trophy, renaming the competition, and revising the entry regulations, UEFA effectively ended the Fairs Cup. Among the changes was the abandonment of the "one city one team" rule, which had had a particularly bad effect on English entrants for 196970, when Liverpool (2nd), Arsenal (4th), Southampton (7th), and Newcastle United (9th-also holders) got the places, at the expense of Everton (3rd), Chelsea (5th), Tottenham Hotspur (6th), and West Ham United (8th). The Football League upheld the geographic rule until 1975, when UEFA pressured the League to drop it or face sanctions. Everton that year, having come 4th, would have been excluded from the competition due to Liverpool's 2nd-place finish.[7]


Season Home Team Score Away Team Venue


London XI
2–2 Barcelona XI
Stamford Bridge, London
Attendance: 45,466
Barcelona XI
6–0 London XI
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Attendance: 70,000
Barcelona XI won 8–2 on aggregate


Birmingham City
0–0 Barcelona
St Andrew's, Birmingham
Attendance: 40,524
4–1 Birmingham City
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Attendance: 70,000
Barcelona won 4–1 on aggregate


Birmingham City
2–2 Roma
St Andrew's, Birmingham
Attendance: 21,000
2–0 Birmingham City
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Attendance: 60,000
Roma won 4–2 on aggregate


6–2 Barcelona
Mestalla, Valencia
Attendance: 65,000
1–1 Valencia
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Attendance: 60,000
Valencia won 7–3 on aggregate


Dinamo Zagreb
1–2 Valencia
Maksimir, Zagreb
Attendance: 40,000
2–0 Dinamo Zagreb
Mestalla, Valencia
Attendance: 55,000
Valencia won 4–1 on aggregate


Real Zaragoza
2–1 Valencia
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Attendance: 50,000
Single match played


Stadio Comunale, Turin
Attendance: 40,000
Single match played


0–1 Real Zaragoza
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Attendance: 50,000
Real Zaragoza
La Romareda, Zaragoza
Attendance: 33,000
Barcelona won 4–3 on aggregate


Dinamo Zagreb
2–0 Leeds United
Maksimir, Zagreb
Attendance: 32,000
Leeds United
0–0 Dinamo Zagreb
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 35,604
Dinamo Zagreb won 2–0 on aggregate


Leeds United
1–0 Ferencváros
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 25,268
0–0 Leeds United
Nepstadion, Budapest
Attendance: 76,000
Leeds United won 1–0 on aggregate


Newcastle United
3–0 Újpesti Dózsa
St James' Park, Newcastle
Attendance: 60,000
Újpesti Dózsa
2–3 Newcastle United
Megyeri út, Budapest
Attendance: 37,000
Newcastle United won 6–2 on aggregate


3–1 Arsenal
Émile Versé Stadium, Brussels
Attendance: 37,000
3–0 Anderlecht
Highbury, London
Attendance: 51,612
Arsenal won 4–3 on aggregate


2–2 Leeds United
Stadio Comunale, Turin
Attendance: 58,555
Leeds United
1–1 Juventus
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 42,483
Leeds United won on away goals, aggregate: 3–3

Trophy play-off match

After the 1970-71 season the organisation of the Fairs Cup was taken over by UEFA. The competition was rebranded as UEFA Cup with a new trophy being introduced which is still in use. The old trophy had not been won by any club permanently, so UEFA organised a play off match to decide who would gain permanent possession of the original Fairs Cup trophy. Before the match, FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous presented silver insignias to the members of the 1958 title winning side, FC Barcelona.[9][10]

The one-off match was played on 22 September 1971, between the first ever Fairs Cup winners, FC Barcelona, and the last winners, Leeds United. Barcelona won this play-off 21.

Year Home Team Score Away Team Venue


(3 titles)
2–1 Leeds United
(2 titles)
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Attendance: 45,000
Single match play-off


By club

Club Winners Runners-up Winning years Runner-up years
Barcelona311958, 1960, 19661962
Leeds United211968, 19711967
Valencia211962, 19631964
Dinamo Zagreb1119671963
Newcastle United101969
Juventus021965, 1971
Birmingham City021960, 1961
London XI011958

All-time top scorers

Rank Player Goals Club(s)
1 Waldo 31 Valencia
2 Peter Lorimer 20 Leeds United
3 Flórián Albert 19 Ferencváros
Ferenc Bene Újpest
José Antonio Zaldúa Barcelona
6 Pedro Manfredini 18 Roma
7 Evaristo 17 Barcelona
8 Vicente Guillot 16 Valencia
9 Marcelino 15 Zaragoza
10 Héctor Núñez 14 Valencia

Top scorers by season

Season Player(s) Goals Club(s)
1955–58 Evaristo 4 Barcelona
Justo Tejada
Peter Murphy Birmingham City
Cliff Holton London XI
Norbert Eschmann Lausanne-Sport
1958–60 Bora Kostić 6 Belgrade XI
1960–61 Pedro Manfredini 12 Roma
1961–62 Waldo 9 Valencia
1962–63 Francisco Lojacono 6 Roma
Pedro Manfredini
Waldo Valencia
1963–64 Waldo 6 Valencia
1964–65 Bobby Charlton 8 Manchester United
Denis Law
1965–66 José Antonio Zaldúa 8 Barcelona
1966–67 Flórián Albert 8 Ferencváros
1967–68 Peter Lorimer 8 Leeds United
1968–69 Antal Dunai 10 Újpest
1969–70 Paul Van Himst 10 Anderlecht
1970–71 Pietro Anastasi 10 Juventus

See also


  1. "British Cup next season". Glasgow Herald. 19 March 1970. p. 6. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  2. "UEFA Cup: All-time finals". UEFA. 30 June 2005. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  3. "Legend". UEFA. 21 August 2006. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  4. "UEFA 60 years at the heart of football" (PDF). UEFA. 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  5. "UEFA Europa League: History: New format provides fresh impetus". UEFA. Archived from the original on 21 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  6. "Classic Football: Clubs: FC Barcelona". FIFA. Archived from the original on 29 April 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
    "Classic Football: Clubs: AS Roma". FIFA. Archived from the original on 17 August 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  7. "Everton to replace Stoke in UEFA Cup". New Sunday Times. Kuala Lumpur: New Straits Times Press. Reuters. 8 June 1975. p. 15. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  8. Head and Tails for the English (Spanish) This articles indicates F. C. Barcelona participated in this first edition of the tournament representing the City of Barcelona, and using, not the colours of the club, but the colours of the city.
  9. "40th anniversary of Fairs Cup victory". Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  10. "Fairs Cup Trophy play off - Nou Camp". Retrieved 23 August 2019.