The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was a European football competition played between 1955 and 1971.
It was formulated by the Swiss football pools magnate, Ernst Thonmen, the Italian league president, Ottorino Barassi, and Stanley Rous, the FA general secretary. Its creation was in keeping with the rising sense of cooperation and rapprochement in Europe at this time, and it was initially designed to be accompanied by international trade fairs. In its initial stages it was played between an amalgam of a city’s teams (i.e. London, Vienna, Birmingham, and so on) and played over the duration of two and even three years.
From 1960/61 it followed a format – a two-legged knockout contest played between ‘proper’ clubs – that was virtually unchanged for the rest of its life, and most of the existence of its successor, the UEFA Cup, too.
Everton first entered in the 1962/63 season, but their debut was inauspicious and they fell at the first hurdle to Jock Stein’s Dunfermline. They subsequently entered in 1964/65 and 1965/66, but were denied entry in the late 1960s because of a ‘one club per city’ rule. Because Liverpool finished ahead of them in the league, for the 1968/69 competition Chelsea qualified and for the 1969/70 competition Arsenal qualified – despite both finishing a league position behind Everton the previous year. Not for the last time would Everton be denied European qualification due to their neighbours.
In 1971 the competition came under UEFA’s jurisdiction and was renamed the UEFA Cup. Four years later Everton fell victim of the ‘one city’ rule for a third time. This time, however, they appealed, arguing that it was anachronism, and won.