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Hannover 96, who Burnley had drawn in the Fairs Cup, were one of three West German clubs to win entry to the 1966/67 competition alongside Nürnberg and Eintracht Frankfurt. Vfb Stuttgart had missed out but they were far from happy having finished 11th in the Bundesliga, one place higher than Burnley’s scheduled opponents.

Stuttgart was a city with a very well known annual trades fair. That was expected to get them automatic qualification into the competition but they were placed as third reserve behind Manchester United and AC Milan. They believed they should have won automatic entry ahead of Hannover 96 because of their higher league placing and said they were considering making a complaint.

stuttgart badge bwSurprisingly the complaint didn’t come immediately but some six weeks after the initial draw had been made in Portugal. They were told their complaint was being taken very seriously although Burnley had to continue making preparations for a tie against Hannover.

Burnley chairman Bob Lord kept a diplomatic silence regarding the situation, yes he really did, whilst secretary Albert Maddox admitted, “These developments have come as a complete surprise to us. Although we are very interested in the news, there is no action we can take until we get official notification of any change.”

Asked to comment, the secretary of the Football League Allan Hardaker, who had played a leading role in getting Burnley into the competition, said, “It is a very interesting situation. It is obviously an internal matter which is up to the West Germans and the Fairs Cup committee to deal with.”

Meanwhile Burnley set off for West Germany for a pre-season tour, taking in three games against Offenbach Kickers, TSV Munich 1860 and ironically a first game against Hannover 96.

By the time they returned home to England to start the new season with a home game against Sheffield United, and a game that ended with a 4-0 win, it was beginning to look as though Stuttgart had won their battle.

That prompted suggestions from both Manchester United and AC Milan that they should have gone first, they were higher up the reserve list, but the Fairs Cup committee eventually decided on a West German club for a West German club and so Burnley’s first opponents would now be Vfb Stuttgart.

With Burnley having been drawn out first against Hannover, we wrongly thought we could make the decision as to whether we played home or away first. Maddox had misread the rules which stated that the side drawn out first would play the first leg at home, that was unless the two clubs mutually agreed otherwise.

And Burnley and Stuttgart did mutually agree with our opponents wanting to play at home first to avoid clashing with a local beer festival, I suppose the idea of combining drinking and football must not have been allowed in the 1960s. The dates were set for September and Burnley were finally ready for a return to European competition, six years after the European Cup campaign.

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