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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
What is the Uefa Super Cup?
Lazio celebrate victory last season
Lazio celebrate victory over Manchester United last year

The Uefa Super Cup will be shown live on BBC Two in the UK at 19:30 BST

The Super Cup was born when Rangers were planning their centenary celebrations for 1973.

What better way to commemorate the event, suggested the Scottish club's assistant manager, Willie Waddell, than to play a match against Ajax, regarded as the best club side in the world?

No sooner said than done. The Dutch club responded positively to the invitation but before Johan Cruyff and his team-mates travelled to Glasgow, the Amsterdam-based newspaper De Telegraaf came up with another idea.

As Ajax were the champions of Europe and as Rangers had won the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1972, why not play two matches on a home-and-away basis and call it the European Super Cup?

Johan Cruyff
Cruyff was involved in the early days of the Super Cup
There were 60,000 fans at Ibrox to watch Ajax win 3-1 on 16 January 1973, while 43,000 watched the return match in Amsterdam eight days later, where a Cruyff goal sealed a 3-2 (6-3 agg) win for the Dutch side.

The two games had been a success in sporting and financial terms, so the competition took root.

A year later, Ajax - still smarting from the loss of Cruyff to Barcelona - trounced AC Milan 6-1 on aggregate to take the first official Super Cup, in the sense that it was the first to be played under Uefa patronage.

Exhibition match

However, the Super Cup retained something of an exhibition match label until the 1985-86 season when Uefa boosted its status.

The major problem which has bugged the game has been the struggle to find dates in a crowded fixture list.

Liverpool could not make space to meet Dinamo Tbilisi in 1981 and could only find one date to play Juventus in 1984.

This was one of the four times when the Uefa Super Cup has been played as a single match.

The next was in 1991, when the political situation obliged Manchester United and Red Star Belgrade to meet only at Old Trafford.

The 1986 edition saw Steaua Bucharest and Dinamo Kiev meet in the Stade Louis II for the only Uefa Super Cup which, prior to the 1998 match, has been played at a neutral venue.

Two years ago, Uefa decided to organise a single match as a curtain-raiser for the new season making it in effect Europe's version of the charity shield.

As with all Uefa matches if the scores are level at the end of normal time the game will go to golden goal and penalties if need be.

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