FW Flashback: Ipswich 2000 Premier League promotion

Ipswich Town are on the precipice of a truly rare achievement in the modern game. 

With just a point required on the final day, the Tractor Boys are on the brink of back-to-back promotions, and a first Premier League campaign in 22 years. Successive promotions from the third tier to the Premier League have happened just twice in its history, with the Suffolk side's East Anglia rivals Norwich being one of them back in 2011, just over a decade after Manchester City did likewise.

Ipswich 2000 Premier League promotion: A short and sweet fairytale

Ipswich’s last spell in the Premier League came between 2000 and 2002, after winning the Division 1 playoffs. The Tractor Boys had a phenomenal first season, finishing a remarkable fifth place, qualifying for the UEFA Cup in style and scoring a famous win at Anfield. Star striker Marcus Stewart scored 19 goals.

Having won the UEFA Cup in 1981, it was the Blues’ dream to return to European action, but it came at an incredible cost.

The club were overstretched by competing on two fronts in the autumn of 2001. And despite a stunning 1-0 win at Portman Road over Italian giants Inter Milan, their league form suffered – particularly in the first half of the season, where supporters had to endure a 15-game winless run.

Ipswich stunned Europe with their 1981 UEFA Cup win, but the good times were not to last – Photo by Icon Sport

Similarities to Y2K can be seen

Despite an upturn of form later in 2001/02, it came too late to avert relegation. Ipswich have not returned to the top flight since, with several players not even having been born when the Tractor Boys were last in the Premier League. But there are some similarities to when they last gained promotion. 

The Tractor Boys are blessed with incredible firepower, they have seven players to have hit five or more this season. Back in 2000, they also shared the goals around, with four scoring eight or more.

Recruitment has been shrewd too, with that idea personified by Omari Hutchinson's loan from Chelsea, who has excelled. Notably, they signed Martijn Reuser on loan from Ajax 24 years ago, so the club has previous form for utilising the loan market.

The Portman Road faithful will be hoping that Hutchinson, like Reuser, makes his move permanent.

Can Kieran McKenna repeat the feat of the Ipswich 2000 Premier League promotion?
Can Kieran McKenna repeat the feat of the Ipswich 2000 Premier League promotion? – Photo by Icon Sport

Leeds the only threat

Though Ipswich will likely join Leicester in automatic promotion, there is still much to play for. Leeds, to have any hope of catching the Tractor Boys, will have to beat fourth-placed Southampton.

Elsewhere, Norwich and West Bromwich Albion need to avoid any complacency to secure their playoff spots ahead of Hull City.

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.