When Saint-Étienne were forced to face Manchester United in Plymouth

Back in the 1970s, United were banned from playing a home European tie at Old Trafford because of crowd trouble

BY Cian Roche 15:37 Thursday 16 February 2017, 15:37 16 Feb 2017

Image: PA PA Archive/PA Images

Manchester United face Saint-Etienne in Thursday night's Europa League Round of 32 clash this evening, but there was a time when the English giants didn't have the luxury of a home tie at Old Trafford.

Back in the 1970s - 1977 to be exact - United took on the French side in first round of the European Cup-Winners' Cup. By this time, crowd trouble was the norm and frequently trouble erupted in the terraces. 

United had drawn the opening leg of the tie - 1-1 - in France, but crowd trouble from the travelling support had caused the English FA to take unprecedented measures up to that point. Fans from both sides had fought within the stadium and riot police were deployed, who eventually calmed proceedings.

In an attempt to prevent crowd trouble occurring once again, Dave Sexton's team were forced to play the game 200km from United's home stadium, Old Trafford. This came after UEFA had removed United from the competition, but a successful appeal saw them reinstated.  

Where they would eventually end up was Home Park, stadium of Third Division side, Plymouth. The move was to discourage fans who had marred scenes in the first game from attending the second lag. Tickets were not sold to the United fans. 

The game was a success both in the terms of avoiding crowd trouble and for the fact that United ran out 2-0 winners in the game. Stuart Pearson scored to give the 'home' side a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute.

Steve Coppell rounded of the scoring to give United the win on the night and a 3-1 win on aggregate. 

St Etienne goalkeeper Curkovic dives but misses a low cross from Manchester United's Steve Coppell and the ball runs to Stuart Pearson (right) who puts United 1-0 up in the 32nd minute of the first round (second leg) European Cup Winners Cup tie at Plymouth Arguyle's Home Park. Image: PA PA Archive/PA Images

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