Inter-Cities Fairs Cup

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Inter-Cities Fairs Cup
Col·leccions del Museu del FC Barcelona 14.jpg
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Trophy (FC Barcelona Museum). It bears the French name of the tournament, Coupe Internationale des Villes de Foires ("International Cup of Cities of Fairs").[1]
Founded1955; 68 years ago (1955)
Number of teams12 (first edition)
64 (last edition)
Related competitionsUEFA Cup (replaced by)
Last championsEngland Leeds United
(2nd title)
Most successful club(s)Spain Barcelona
(3 titles)

The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, sometimes referred to as the European Fairs Cup,[2] Fairs Cities' Cup,[3][4] or simply as the Fairs Cup, was a European football competition played between 1955 and 1971. It is often considered the predecessor to the UEFA Cup (now 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 1964, it was sometimes referred to as the Runners-up Cup, with teams now qualifying based on league position.[5][6] The winning team received the Noel Beard Trophy (Trophée Noel Beard), named for the cutler who designed it.[7]

The competition was organised by the Fairs Cup Committee which was led by some FIFA executives until 1971, when it was abolished and replaced by the UEFA Cup.[8]

While the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is generally considered to be the predecessor to the UEFA Cup, it was not organised by UEFA. Consequently, the confederation does not consider clubs' records in the Fairs Cup to be part of their European record[5][9] and regards its prestige as lesser than the UEFA Cup.[10][failed verification] There is no documentary evidence to support the claim that FIFA views the competition as a major honour, other than in articles submitted by clubs for inclusion in a series of club profiles, which was removed from the FIFA website in 2015.[11]


Spanish era[edit]

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, dubbed Barcelona XI, 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 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 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 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.

English era[edit]

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.

UEFA Cup[edit]

In the 1971–72 season the competition was abolished and replaced by the UEFA Cup after UEFA revised the entry regulations and concluded that the "one city one team" rule related with the Fairs Cup must be abolished,[10] which had had a particularly bad effect on English entrants for 1969–70, 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.[12]


Season Home Team Score Away Team Venue


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


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


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


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


Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dinamo Zagreb
1–2 Spain Valencia
Maksimir, Zagreb
Attendance: 40,000
Spain Valencia
2–0 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dinamo Zagreb
Mestalla, Valencia
Attendance: 55,000
Valencia won 4–1 on aggregate


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


Hungary Ferencváros
Italy Juventus
Stadio Comunale, Turin
Attendance: 40,000
Single match played


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


Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dinamo Zagreb
2–0 England Leeds United
Maksimir, Zagreb
Attendance: 32,000
England Leeds United
0–0 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dinamo Zagreb
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 35,604
Dinamo Zagreb won 2–0 on aggregate


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


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


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


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

Trophy play-off match[edit]

After the 1970-71 tournament, the last of the Fairs Cup, the competition was abolished and replaced with the UEFA Cup.[14]

The Fairs Cup trophy had not been won by any club permanently, so a play-off match was organised to decide who would gain permanent possession of the original competition trophy. Before the match, then FIFA President Sir Stanley Rous presented silver insignia to the members of the 1958 title-winning side, CF Barcelona.[15][16]

The one-off match was played on 22 September 1971, between the first ever Fairs Cup winners, Barcelona, and the last winners, Leeds United.[14] Barcelona won this play-off 2–1.

Year Home Team Score Away Team Venue


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


By club[edit]

Club Winners Runners-up Winning years Runner-up years
Spain Barcelona 3 1 1958, 1960, 1966 1962
England Leeds United 2 1 1968, 1971 1967
Spain Valencia 2 1 1962, 1963 1964
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dinamo Zagreb 1 1 1967 1963
Hungary Ferencváros 1 1 1965 1968
Spain Zaragoza 1 1 1964 1966
England Arsenal 1 0 1970
England Newcastle United 1 0 1969
Italy Roma 1 0 1961
Italy Juventus 0 2 1965, 1971
England Birmingham City 0 2 1960, 1961
Belgium Anderlecht 0 1 1970
Hungary Újpest 0 1 1969
England London XI 0 1 1958

All-time top scorers[edit]

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

Top scorers by season[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Attaway, Pete (December 8, 2012). Nottingham Forest Miscellany. eBook Partnership. ISBN 9781909178373 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "British Cup next season". Glasgow Herald. 19 March 1970. p. 6. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  3. ^ "German International". Heinz Moeller-Verlag. March 17, 1971 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Prole, David Robert (March 17, 1964). "Football in London". R. Hale – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b "UEFA Cup: All-time finals". UEFA. 30 June 2005. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  6. ^ "Legend". UEFA. 21 August 2006. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Homage to an unloved prize". August 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Vieli (2014, p. 44)
  9. ^ "UEFA Europa League: History: New format provides fresh impetus". UEFA. Archived from the original on 21 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  10. ^ a b Vieli (2014, p. 45)
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ a b Head and Tails for the English (Spanish) This articles indicates C.F. Barcelona participated in this first edition of the tournament representing the City of Barcelona, dubbed Barcelona XI, and using, not the colours of the club, but the colours of the city.
  14. ^ a b "Origins of the UEFA Cup" (PDF). UEFA direct. No. 85. Nyon: Union des Associations Européennes de Football. May 2009. pp. 10–11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 July 2021.
  15. ^ "40th anniversary of Fairs Cup victory". Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Fairs Cup Trophy play off - Nou Camp". Retrieved 23 August 2019.


External links[edit]