*also known as the Simod Cup and Zenith Data Systems Cup
Introduced in 1985 after English clubs were banned from Europe, the Full Members’ Cup was a knockout trophy designed to drum up additional attendances in the midst of football’s financial crisis. A Full Member – although this was never quite clear to the public – was one of the 44 clubs in the First or Second Division.
It was a straight knockout competition, but singularly failed to capture the imagination of the public. In 1986/87 gates of 821 and 817 were recorded at First Division Charlton, and only four attendances in the entire competition reached five figures that year.
The competition was rescued by the sports manufacturers Simod, who sponsored it in 1988 and 1989. The prize money on offer – £60,000 for the winners, £30,000 for the runners-up and £15,000 for the semi-finalists – was comparatively generous by the standards of the time. The American computer manufacturer Zenith Data Systems sponsored the competition between 1990 and 1992. When this deal ran out, the ambivalence of clubs and the public plus the onset of the Premier League meant the competition was disbanded.
HAVING boycotted the inaugural competition, Everton entered for the first time in 1986/87, but were knocked out in the quarter-final on penalties by Charlton. The game came in the midst of the League Championship run-in, but Howard Kendall nevertheless put out a strong side, that included a debut for John Ebbrell. Everton did not enter in 1987/88, but the following year reached the final, in which they were beaten in a half-empty Wembley by Nottingham Forest. Again, Everton did not enter in 1989/90.
By 1990/91 the competition was split into north–south regional sections, which drummed up slightly more public interest. Everton beat Leeds United in the northern final, but in the national final at Wembley were torn apart in extra time by Crystal Palace, losing 4–1. Everton entered the competition’s finale in 1991/92, but were knocked out by Leicester City early in the competition.
EVERTONIANS’ ambivalence to this maligned competition is best surmised by the numbers who actually attended these games. Goodison hosted just seven Full Members’ Cup ties, and yet the old stadium’s five lowest record attendances for a senior match are all in this short-lived competition.