Inter-Cities Fairs Cup
|Number of teams||12 (First Round)
|Last champions|| Leeds United
|Most successful club(s)|| Barcelona
The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, sometimes referred to as the European Fairs Cup, Fairs Cities' Cup, or simply as the Fairs Cup, was a European football competition played between 1955 and 1971. The competition was the idea of Swiss pools supremo Ernst Thommen, Ottorino Barassi from Italy, and the English Football Association general secretary Stanley Rous, all of whom later became senior officials at the world governing body, FIFA. 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. In 1971, it came under the auspices of UEFA and was replaced by the UEFA Cup.
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. However, FIFA does view the competition as a major honour.
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 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 different clubs, the former was effectively FC Barcelona with one player from RCD Espanyol. After a 2–2 draw at Stamford Bridge, Barcelona emerged triumphant after winning the return 6–0. 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 4–1 in the final.
The third tournament was held over the course of the 1960–61 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 7–6 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 2–2 draw at home, they lost 2–0 to Roma in the return.
The 1961–62 season saw the rules amended to allow three teams from each country to enter. The "one city, one team" rule was temporarily abandoned and the cities of Edinburgh, Milan, and Barcelona were represented by two teams each. The former entered both Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian, the second was represented by both Internazionale and A.C. Milan, while the latter entered both 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 7–3 on aggregate and in 1963 they retained the title after beating Dinamo Zagreb with a 4–1 aggregate score. They reached their third final in 1964 but lost 2–1 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 4–3 on aggregate.
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 3–3 on aggregate.
In the 1971–72 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 1969–70, when Liverpool (2nd), Arsenal (4th), Southampton (7th), and Newcastle United (9th) got the places, at the expense of Everton (3rd), Chelsea (5th), Tottenham Hotspur (6th), and West Ham United (8th). The rule was dropped in 1975, when Everton, having come 4th, would have been excluded thanks to Liverpool's 2nd-place finish. Their protest that the rule was an anachronism was upheld.
Performance by club
|Club||Winners||Runners-up||Winning years||Runner-up years|
|Barcelona||3||1||1958, 1960, 1966||1962|
|Leeds United||2||1||1968, 1971||1967|
|Birmingham City||–||2||–||1960, 1961|
Performance by country
Trophy play-off match
On 22 September 1971, a one-off match was played between the first ever winners (FC Barcelona) and the last ever winners (Leeds United) of the Fairs Cup, to decide who would gain permanent possession of the original trophy. Barcelona won this play-off 2–1.
|Season||Home Team||Score||Away Team||Venue|
|2–1|| Leeds United
|Single match play-off|
All-time top scorers
This is the list of top scorers in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, from 1955 to 1971 when the competition was taken over by UEFA and rebranded as UEFA Cup.
|2||Peter Lorimer||SCO||20||Leeds United|
|José Antonio Zaldúa||ESP||Barcelona|
|7||Evaristo de Macedo||BRA||17||Barcelona|
|9||Marcelino Martínez||ESP||15||Real Zaragoza|
- Source: rsssf.com
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- 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.