Part Six - UEFA's One Club per City Rule
We've all heard Evertonians moan and moan about how we stopped them winning the European Cup in the late 1980s. But that's not the only occasion that the Blues have had reason to blame Liverpool for their lack of European success. Back in the 1960s they were twice denied entry to the Fairs Cup (forerunner of the UEFA Cup) due to a rule stating that only one club from each city could enter.
The first instance was in 1968-9 after Everton had finished fifth and Liverpool third the previous season. As a result Everton missed out on entry to the Fairs Cup, as did Arsenal and Spurs as Chelsea were already involved. Newcastle, who had finished tenth were the highest placed team from a city that didn't have a representative and were allowed in, only to go on and win the thing.
Fuming Evertonians claimed that they would surely have won the Fairs Cup themselves had they been allowed to enter. If this wasn’t enough, Everton were again denied entry in 1969-70, despite finishing third. Liverpool had finished second so got in while Everton's place went to Southampton. When the situation arose again in 1975-6 they decided that enough was enough. After finishing fourth in 1974-5, they were unable to take their place in the UEFA Cup as Liverpool had finished second. This meant Everton's place went to Stoke but this time they were having none of UEFA's rule.
They said it was outdated and unfair as it originated in the 1950s when the competition was for clubs from cities that held trade fairs. Everton went to a committee in Geneva who agreed to uphold their complaint. Unlucky Stoke, who had only gone out on away goals to three times European champions Ajax the year before were denied a further shot at glory.
So moaning Everton took up their place in the UEFA Cup and you would think they'd really go for it to prove how right they were to be annoyed. Instead they went out to AC Milan in the first round, drawing 0-0 at home and losing 1-0 away. Now before you think "it's not so bad going out to AC Milan", you must remember they were not a good side then. In the next round they drew 0-0 with Irish side Athlone Town!
As for Liverpool, the side that Everton resented denying them the chance to compete more often before. Well we went on to win the competition for a second time.