By Lucas Pereira, FootballPredictions.NET, 11:15 04/10/2020
Long a middling Midlands club bouncing to and from the Championship to the Premier League, the city of Leicester is still reeling from the achievements of “The Unbelievables” and Claudio Ranieri; The side who famously defied 5000/1 odds to lift the Premier League after the 2015/16 season.
Leicester City is owned by King Power, a Thai company who operate a vast number of duty-free shops in Thailand and beyond. The chairman of the company is Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, who succeeded his father Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in 2018 after his death.
The Foxes are often considered one of the best-run clubs in England, with the King Power ownership praised for their brilliant gestures to fans - home and away - when visiting Leicester’s King Power Stadium. The club has prided itself on a highly sustainable model which has so far allowed them to keep pace with the traditional Premier League ‘Big Six’.
From humble beginnings to Premier League glory
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha launched a bid to acquire Leicester City, then of the Championship, in 2010. The takeover was estimated to have cost the self-made billionaire just over £39 million and involved former chairman Milan Mandaric staying on in the role until the transition to full ownership could be made.
Vichai was formally appointed chairman in February of 2011 and immediately pledged that Leicester would return to the Premier League and break the monopoly of the ‘Big Six’ which had taken such a stranglehold since the inception of the Premier League in 1992.
Leicester were promoted to the big time in 2014 but were immediately pegged back by fears of relegation despite entertaining many in their first season back in the top flight. A 5-4 victory over big-spending giants Manchester United, featuring a masterclass from future club legend Jamie Vardy was a particularly poignant highlight - as well as a glimpse of what was to come.
Manager Nigel Pearson was sacked at the season’s conclusion despite completing the great escape to avoid relegation - with the ownership citing issues off the pitch as the reason for his departure. They brought in veteran Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, in a move which mystified many.
However, in a season which will go down as the most memorable of the century - if not in history - Leicester lost just three games and finished ten points ahead of nearest challengers Arsenal.
Incredible displays of generosity and kindness
Vichai founded his King Power brand in 1989 with a single shop, and his empire has grown into a relative monopoly over Thailand’s duty-free business as well as several outposts all over Asia. King Power also has interests in shopping malls all over Thailand as well as the airline Thai AirAsia.
Srivaddhanaprabha won the hearts and minds of many for his generosity and kindness, looking after Leicester fans with free shirts and scarves both at home and away, as well as handing out free beer and snacks for supporters. The billionaire also purchased a brand-new BMW i8 for each player who contributed to the historic Premier League win, in a much-publicised story.
However, just two years on from sport’s most famous upset, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter crashed shortly after taking off following a Leicester City fixture at the King Power Stadium. He, along with all four others on board, sadly died in the resulting fireball. His funeral was attended by Leicester players in Thailand, and fans of Leicester and other English and European teams alike left messages and symbols at the memorial outside the King Power Stadium.
Vice-chairman Aiyawatt then stepped up to succeed his father in the chairman role, as well as becoming chairman of the King Power brand. Leicester have continued to thrive and carry on Vichai’s legacy in the Premier League, with the 2019/20 season meaning Leicester will again play European football in the months to come.