Football colour clash turns Emirates Spinnaker Tower blue

The UK’s Portsmouth City Council has unveiled new designs for the Emirates Spinnaker Tower that will see the landmark painted blue, white and gold, which the local authority say will reflect the city’s rich maritime heritage.

Emirates was announced as the sponsor of the tower earlier this month, becoming the first ever of the landmark building, as part of an exclusive five-year partnership worth $5.5 million.

When the initial designs were unveiled, however, they featured the tower painted in Emirates’ red branding, which drew a fierce public backlash because it was the same colour as the city’s arch football rivals Southampton FC.

Nearly 10,000 people signed a petition against the rebranding, and following a period of public consultation, the council officials decided to paint the bottom 50 metres of the tower blue, the colour of Portsmouth FC.

Emirates has not been excluded from the new colouring scheme, with it the airline’s gold to feature on the legs and on the back of the tower, while the iconic Spinnaker sails will remain white.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, said after listening to initial public response, the airline worked on finding a resolution.

“We take our responsibility as a sponsor very seriously.  We listened to the feedback and worked with the Council to adapt the designs in order to create something that Portsmouth residents will be proud of,” he said.

The council said it did not consult with the residents of the city beforehand “because the negotiations with Emirates were commercially sensitive”.

As part of the original design, which would have seen see Emirates’ red branding running up the length and breadth of the tower, the council ordered 115 litres (of red paint, which was mixed to order and cannot be returned. The paint cost $7,300), which the council said will be more than recouped from $157,000 Emirates is paying to enable the tower to be branded.

“The paint is specifically for use on rendered concrete and we are interested in hearing from groups in the city that could use the paint for community projects. We have already been approached by a scout group and would like to hear from others,” said the council.

The famous Portsmouth landmark will be renamed the Emirates Spinnaker Tower from July this year, in time for the America’s World Cup Series in July.

“This is an exciting time for the city. The eyes of the world will be tuning in to watch the forthcoming America’s Cup World Series, an opportunity to showcase the very best of Portsmouth. We are looking forward to joining the residents in the celebrations,” said Clark.

“As a business, we have been committed to the United Kingdom ever since our first flight into London in 1987. We have invested heavily in the country through both our nationwide operations and our sponsorship portfolio of UK sporting institutions. This partnership is an extension of our commitment to the UK and we are proud to be in a position where our Emirates branding can sit alongside such an iconic British landmark,” he said.

Built in 2005, the Spinnaker Tower is the centrepiece of the $60 million  ‘Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour’ redevelopment project. At 170 metres high, the tower is one of the UK’s tallest buildings outside of London.