Guardian- Leicester City’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, died in the helicopter crash outside the club’s stadium on Saturday, it was confirmed on Sunday night by the club.
He was one of five people killed – all onboard the helicopter – when the accident occurred around an hour after the club’s draw at home to West Ham United. The Thai owner’s helicopter crashed near a car park by the south-east corner of the stadium shortly after taking off from the pitch at around 8.20pm.
Vichai, 60, was a hugely popular figure at Leicester, having bought the club for £39m in 2010. With his backing the club won the Premier League in 2016 for the first time in its history, defying the odds of 5,000-1.
Eyewitness reports indicated that the helicopter only just cleared the roof of the stands, stayed in the air briefly then spiralled down to earth after reportedly developing a fault with its tail rotor. The aircraft crashed and erupted into flames after impact where it lay on land owned by the club, near a car park used by Leicester’s staff, which was empty at the time.
Stunning story as Leicester City’s beloved owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, died in a helicopter crash as he was leaving the King Power stadium after Leicester drew with West Ham on Saturday. Vichai was extremely popular, having purchased the middling club for £39 million in 2010. This was a team that bounced between the championship, the top flight, and even the first division as recently as the 2008 season. Srivaddhanaprabha breathed new life into the club and saw them finish towards the top of the championship for a few years before they finally won it in 2014, booking their ticket back to the prem.
In 2015, they finished 14th in their first year back in the top flight. And then we all know what happened in 2016, as Srivaddhanaprabha was the architect behind the greatest underdog story possibly in the history of sport. Leicester City won the most improbable Premier League title ever. At 5000-1, if you think that’s an overstatement, you don’t understand math.
One of the things I learned when I went to that Liverpool game a few weeks ago is that British soccer fans have very strong opinions about the owners of their teams. They’re seen as far more than some behind-the-scenes Wizard of Oz sugar daddy who simply opens his purse when the coach wants to buy a player from another team. Fan bases attribute the success and failure of their team perhaps as much to the owner as to the coach (Liverpool fans love John Henry but hated his predecessors, George Gillett and Tom Hicks). As best as I could tell, the fans want their owners to be extremely passionate about the team while also realizing when it’s important to not get too involved. It sounds like Vichai had found that perfect balance with Leicester City.
Here’s to the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, as well as the others who passed away in the crash: Nursara Suknamai, Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz. Thoughts and prayers to their families and all those affected by this terrible loss.