Ed Sheeran has signed a deal as shirt sponsor for the Ipswich Town men’s and women’s teams, marking another step in the League One club’s attempts to reverse a decade and a half of flagging fortunes on and off the pitch.
The four-times Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, who is based in Suffolk and supports the club, has agreed a deal that will initially cover the 2021-22 season. The shirts will be emblazoned with the titles of Sheeran’s albums, “+-=÷x”, along with the word “Tour”.
Although Ipswich stand no chance of reaching this season’s play-offs after a desperately disappointing second campaign in the third tier, the partnership with Sheeran is a forward-looking move that comes a month after an American-led group bought the club in a £40m deal.
“The football club is a big part of the local community and this is my way of showing my support,” Sheeran told the club website. “I have always enjoyed my trips to Portman Road and I’m looking forward to going back there as soon as supporters are allowed into stadiums again. With the new owners from the US coming in, there are sure to be exciting times ahead for Ipswich fans, including myself.”
Alongside a picture of himself as a child wearing an Ipswich shirt from the late 1990s, he also revealed the move on Instagram with the caption: “This bloke is the new sponsor of @ipswichtown football club. Do well.”
Sheeran has been a regular visitor to Portman Road in recent years and played four gigs in Ipswich at the end of his most recent tour in 2019. Although the 30-year-old was born in Halifax he was raised in Framlingham, 16 miles from Ipswich. He has become one of the world’s best-selling artists and his personal wealth was estimated last year at about £200m.
Although Sheeran is perhaps the most famous musician to put his name to a football sponsorship, he is far from the first. Wet Wet Wet sponsored the Scottish club Clydebank for a spell in the 1990s, and the name of Skint Records, Fatboy Slim’s label, adorned Brighton’s shirt for nine years at the start of the millennium. The hip-hop group Goldie Lookin’ Chain briefly sponsored the kit worn by Newport County, their hometown club, in the mid-2000s. Margate, who play in the Isthmian League, have been sponsored by Pete Doherty’s band, the Libertines, since 2018.
Ipswich’s women’s team played in the fourth tier during the curtailed 2020-21 campaign but they are among the best-run operations in the country and are hopeful of promotion before next season.
On Thursday the Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane said he was renewing his shirt sponsorship of Leyton Orient for the 2021-22 season, under which the sponsorship is donated to three causes.