Iconic names, a disastrous relationship and now a music superstar - the evolution of Town’s shirt sponsors
- Credit: ITFC/Andy Warren
Ipswich Town will have a new sponsor on their shirts next season following the Blues' collaboration with Ed Sheeran. ANDY WARREN takes a look at the companies associated with the club over the years.
Pioneer Corporation – electronics – 1981-85
Ipswich Town’s UEFA Cup success in 1981 was the final year in which the Blues did not have a shirt sponsor on their famous strip.
The 1981/82 campaign saw the club sponsored by Pioneer, an electronics company, which at one stage sponsored the club’s West Stand which is now known as the East of England Co-op Stand.
The business’s logo remained on the Town shirts until 1985, encompassing seasons when the club continued to compete in Europe and finished second in the league in 1982 but never managed to recapture past glories.
Radio Orwell – local radio station – 1985-86
A one-season wonder. Radio Orwell took over as Town sponsor in 1985 and took its place on the red band stretching across the front of the club’s shirts.
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The radio station started as an independent one, broadcasting across the Ipswich and East Suffolk area from the Electric House studios in the town. It has been taken over on numerous occasions, becoming SGR and then by the group which owns Heart and Capital FM. Sadly, the one season of their sponsorship ended in relegation.
Fisons – horticultural chemicals – 1986-1995
A perfect marriage. During Fisons’ time as Ipswich Town sponsors, the Blues were promoted back to the top flight as second division champions in 1992 and took their place for the first season of Premier League football.
The iconic white collar and red laces shirt of 1992-94 has certainly gone down in history as one of Town’s best, although the final season of the Fisons partnership ended with relegation in 1995.
Greene King – brewery – 1995-2001
Another – and perhaps the last – iconic Ipswich Town sponsor came when Greene King took over following relegation to the First Division in 1995.
The Bury St Edmunds brewary’s first appearance came on the ‘dripping paint’ home shirt during the club’s first season back in the second tier and continued through to the shirt worn at Wembley when the Blues won promotion back to the Premier League 20 years ago.
Along the way, their Abbott Ale brand also appeared on a cream and black away shirt worn in 1996. Greene King gained real exposure when Ipswich finished fifth in the Premier League in 2000/01 in what proved to be the final year of the partnership.
TXU Energi – energy supplier – 2001-03
Greene King’s departure saw TXU Energi take over for Town’s second season in the Premier League, in a deal worth a reported £4million over the course of three seasons.
Sadly, the partnership saw Ipswich relegated from the Premier League and latterly enter administration, although the Blues did have the company’s logo emblazoned on their chests as they played Inter Milan home and away in the UEFA Cup in 2001.
Powergen – energy company – 2003-06
When TXU was sold to Powergen in 2002, the British-based company inherited and continued their sponsorship of Ipswich Town.
The Blues made the play-offs twice during this period, losing to West Ham on both occasions, before the final season of Joe Royle’s time in charge also brought about a change in sponsor.
E.on – energy company – 2006-08
Another sale and another company to inherit the sponsorship of Ipswich Town, E.on bought Powergen in 2002 and eventually absorbed the company and rebranded completely.
The sponsorship took in Jim Magilton’s first two seasons in charge, in which the Blues finished 14th and eighth in the Championship.
Marcus Evans Group – various - 2008-18
The takeover of the club by Marcus Evans in late 2007 saw a flurry of new signings and the logo of the Marcus Evans Group appear on club shirts at the start of the 2008-09 season.
The Evans group describes itself as a ‘global, multifaceted media, corporate marketing and information company’, with the logo appearing on Town’s home and away shirts, as well as throughout Portman Road, for a decade.
It’s still on show throughout Portman Road.
Magical Vegas – gambling – 2018
Town announced their new sponsorship deal, worth nearly £2million over three years, in January 2018 with the sponsorship taking effect on the club’s away shirts immediately before adorning home shirts the following season.
The move was a controversial one, with many fans unhappy their club would be carrying the logo of a casino while also being less than impressed with the design of the company’s logo.
Managing director Ian Milne revealed other parties had been interested in sponsoring the shirts, but that the club is excited by the partnership with the online casino.
He said: “Of course there were discussions about us being a community club and what have you, but betting is legal.
“Betting has to be done responsibly and it’s for adults only, that’s very important to stress. And I don’t think the logo is overly ‘gambling’.”
The Blues’ association with Magical Vegas has been something of a disastrous time, with the first full season of the deal seeing the club tumble out of the Championship before sliding down the League One table in the second.
Carers Trust – charity – 2020
Next up was the Carers Trust.
Credit to Magical Vegas here, not only did they allow their company logo to become monochrome to improve the appearance of Town’s kits, they have also passed on the final year of their sponsorship agreement to their long-time charity partner.
Ed Sheeran - musician - 2021
So here we are, a young man who grew up in Framlingham will sponsor his boyhood club's shirts for the 2021/22 season.
Ed Sheeran is a proper, bone fide, Ipswich Town fan. He's been regularly spotted at games in recent years and even seems to have a fascination for the Papa John's Trophy.
The link-up appears to be promoting a new, as-yet unannounced, tour for a music superstar who ended his most-recent trek around the planet by playing to packed crowds in Chantry Park in Ipswich. Full details of what the logo means will be revealed shortly.
What's clear is this shirt will be an extremely popular one with the majority of supporters and could even help attract new fans to the club.
It seems to be a match made in heaven.