Ian Branfoot began his managerial career at Reading in January 1984.
He enjoyed a successful time in charge of the club as he managed Reading to a record breaking start to the 1985 season with 13 straight wins. He guided the side to promotion as Division 2 as champions in 1986.
He also led Reading to the Simod Cup on 27 March 1988, by beating Luton Town 4–1 at Wembley. Branfoot and Reading parted company on the 23 October 1989.
After Reading, he was then appointed coach at Crystal Palace between December 1989 and June 1991, before becoming manager of Southampton.
He spent two and a half years as manager at the Dell, before managing Fulham for two seasons in the mid 1990s.
Between 1998 and 2002, Branfoot was Academy Director at Sunderland.
As a player, Branfoot was a central defender and represented Sheffield Wednesday, Doncaster Rovers, and Lincoln City.