Ed Sheeran releases new single Afterglow as a Christmas present for fans

Can Sheeran's surprise new single make a last minute grab for the 2020 Christmas Number 1?

Ed Sheeran has surprise-released a brand-new single, titled Afterglow.

Announced by Sheeran on Instagram less than 24 hours before its release last night (Dec 20), The Afterglow - out now - is a one-off release described as "a Christmas present" that won't feature on his next album.

Writing on Instagram, Sheeran said: "Hey guys. Afterglow is a song I wrote last year that I wanted to release for you. It’s not the first single from the next album, it’s just a song I love, and hope you love too. Enjoy ! Have a safe and happy festive break and New Year’s. Back to dad land for me now, ciao x".

The release of Afterglow this week makes it a contender for this year's Official Christmas Number 1, which is announced this Friday (Dec 25). 

MORE: The Official 2020 Christmas Number 1 contenders

LadBaby's new single Don't Stop Me Eatin' is currently leading the race for the festive top spot, while Jess Glynne's This Christmas, Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You and Wham's Last Christmas are all in the running. 

The Official Christmas Number 1 race runs between December 18 - 24, with the Official Christmas Chart revealed on Christmas Day on BBC Radio 1.  

Afterglow is Sheeran's first new music since last summer's No.6 Collaborations Project, which became his fourth Number 1 album and features three chart-topping singles: I Don't Care with Justin Bieber, Take Me Back To London ft. Stormzy, and Beautiful People ft. Khalid. View Ed Sheeran's Official UK Chart history in full here.