Liverpool Lead Premier League By Five Points After Leicester Draw

Liverpool’s English midfielder Adam Lallana (R) crosses the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 30, 2019.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to five points following a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City on Wednesday.

Sadio Mane gave Liverpool a third-minute lead and raised hopes among home fans that, following second-placed reigning champions Manchester City’s 2-1 loss away to Newcastle on Tuesday, the Reds might go seven points clear.

But Harry Maguire equalised for Leicester in first-half stoppage time.

Leicester To Pay Heartfelt Tribute To Thai Owner Killed In Crash

People gather in Jubilee Square to take part in the “Vichai March”, or the “5000-1” march towards the King Power Stadium, in honour of Leicester City’s late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabh, ahead of the club’s English Premier League football match against Burnley, in Leicester, central England on November 10, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Leicester City are to pay an emotional tribute to late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on Saturday as the club play at their King Power Stadium for the first time since his death in a helicopter crash.

The charismatic Thai had become a beloved figure in the club and the city – a feat rarely achieved by Premier League clubs’ often distant billionaire owners.

Under Vichai’s ownership, Leicester produced one of the biggest upsets in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title.

To echo those odds, around 5,000 fans are expected to walk from the city centre to the stadium before the Premier League match against Burnley.

On Friday, the club announced plans to erect a statue of Vichai at the stadium.

His son Aiyawatt, the club’s vice-chairman, wrote in Saturday’s match programme: “We will never be able to repay what he did for us -– for me as his son, us as his family, everyone connected to Leicester City and beyond – but we are committed to honouring his memory and upholding his legacy.”

Vichai was among five people killed when the helicopter plunged to the ground in a car park just outside the stadium following Leicester’s match against West Ham on October 27.

The team, currently 10th in the Premier League, returned to action last weekend, beating Cardiff 1-0 away, but on Saturday a capacity home crowd will have a chance to show their appreciation for the man who transformed their club.

A special “Tribute to Khun Vichai” video will be shown on big screens before kick-off and a two-minute silence will be held. Fans will receive commemorative scarves and souvenir matchday programmes in honour of the club’s late chairman.

The players will wear tribute T-shirts during their warm-up and in the first-half, the team will don shirts embroidered with Vichai’s name.

The second-half shirts will bear the poppy symbol in honour of those who have given their lives in war, with the match selected as the club’s annual remembrance fixture, 100 years after the end of World War I.

Acts of generosity

A number of players, including Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel, and manager Claude Puel travelled to Thailand to attend Vichai’s funeral.

Schmeichel has been especially affected, having watched the helicopter take off from the pitch before it appeared to go into a fateful spin.

“I was on the pitch and I waved him off,” said Schmeichel. “I saw it all happen. It is something that will stay with me, unfortunately.”

Mourners have turned Leicester’s stadium into a shrine to Vichai over the last two weeks, carpeting the ground with floral tributes and messages of thanks.

Stories have emerged of Vichai’s acts of generosity to the club’s supporters and players and sizeable donations he made to local hospitals.

Puel said he expected an emotional afternoon.

“We know our fans, they are fantastic… there were 3,000 of them at our last game in Cardiff, it was a fantastic reunion with the fans,” Puel said.

“After the game, there was a lot of emotion that we shared with them and we can imagine what it will be like at home with 30,000 people in the stadium.”

He admitted getting the players ready for the game against struggling Burnley had been tough.

“It’s not easy to prepare this game, but the togetherness between us all, it’s a good feeling, a good energy, a fantastic strength,” he said.

“Our strength, spirit and positive attitude, as well as the support of our fans, will be very important.

“In the last game, we found the right balance between emotion and concentration, and focus on our game.”

Leicester City Footballers Pay Tributes To Vichai

Leicester City’s team arrive at Wat Thepsirin Buddhist temple in Bangkok on the second day of funeral ceremony for Leicester City’s Thai owner and duty-free mogul, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on November 4, 2018. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

 

Players and staff from Leicester City were set to arrive in Bangkok Sunday to attend a mourning rite for the club’s chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, whose death last week in a helicopter crash stunned the Premier League club.

Sunday marks the second day of a week-long ceremony held at Wat Thepsirin, one of Bangkok’s most famous temples which typically serves as the site for funerals of very important Thais.

Over the coming days, Thailand’s business and political elites are expected to visit the temple to pay their respects, while monks will chant Buddhist verses over the duty-free mogul’s body.

Vichai, 60, died last week, along with four others, when his helicopter crashed and burst into flames moments after taking off from Leicester‘s pitch following a match.

His death sent shockwaves through Leicester, where the charismatic Vichai had become a beloved figure in the club and the city — a feat rarely achieved by the Premier League’s foreign owners.

It was under Vichai’s ownership that Leicester crafted one of the biggest fairy tales in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title

On Saturday the team played at Cardiff City, their first match since his death, with players from both teams coming together to pay their respects before the game.

Massive banners featuring Thailand’s flag saying “R.I.P. Vichai” moved across the stadium, and the crowd observed a minute of silence. Fans wore T-shirts with Vichai’s picture on it, underneath the words “The Boss”.

After the match, 13 members of Leicester City — including manager Claude Puel, striker Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki — boarded a chartered flight to Bangkok, according to a statement from Vichai’s company, King Power.

Along with director of football Jon Rudkin, the other players attending are all part of the first-team squad.

They are team captain Wes Morgan, defenders Harry Maguire, Christian Fuchs and Ben Chiwell, midfielders Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Marc Albrighton and Andy King.

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel — who is believed to be the closest of all the Leicester players to Vichai — will also attend the funeral.

A King Power spokesman also added that Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, the daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is expected to attend Sunday’s ceremony.

The first three days of the elaborate ceremony will have royal sponsorship.

After the week-long ceremony, Vichai’s body will be kept for 100 days before cremation, though a date has yet to be set.

Vichai’s company started out with a single store in Bangkok; today, his King Power empire includes a monopoly over the duty-free shops in Thailand’s tourist-heavy airports.

Despite his business smarts Vichai owed his ascent to the canny navigation of Thailand’s unpredictable politics and powerbrokers.

His links to the monarchy were reflected in the name of his company and his surname — which was bestowed upon him by the former king, and means “auspicious and prosperous light”.

Vichai leaves behind a wife and four children, two sons and two daughters.

The four other crash victims were identified by British police as Nursara Suknamai — an actress and a runner-up in Miss Thailand Universe in 2005 — and Kaveporn Punpare, both members of Vichai’s staff, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

AFP

Leicester Beat Cardiff After Emotional Tributes To Late Owner

Leicester City’s midfielders James Maddison (R) and Demarai Gray (6R) hold a banner showing late Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha holding the Premier League Cup after their match against Cardiff City on November 3, 2018. PHOTO: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Leicester’s grief-stricken players beat Cardiff 1-0 on an emotional day as they returned to action for the first time since the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash.

Thai billionaire Vichai was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed outside Leicester’s King Power Stadium following last Saturday’s match against West Ham.

The horrific accident triggered a week of mourning in Leicester and throughout the world of football.

Vichai was adored in Leicester after his eight-year reign peaked in 2016 when the 5,000-1 outsiders became Premier League champions in astonishing style.

With his funeral underway on Saturday in Bangkok, Leicester headed to Cardiff for a match that served as a chance to honour their late owner and begin the healing process.

Most Leicester fans wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘The Boss’ and a picture of Vichai on the front, and on the back “Khun Vichai, You Will Be Forever In Our Hearts”

The players warmed up in similar T-shirts over their training gear.

A giant Thai flag with both clubs’ crests on it and in giant lettering “RIP Vichai” was passed from the home fans to the visiting supporters.

Three minutes into the match, Leicester’s fans broke into a rendition of ‘When You’re Smiling’, the anthem that sound-tracked happier days during the club’s title triumph.

During the match itself, England defender Harry Maguire was injured and had to be substituted after only 27 minutes after taking a knock in a tussle with Callum Paterson, and replaced by Jonny Evans.

Cardiff were inches away from taking the lead on the half hour when a free kick from Victor Camarasa hit the bar.

But after that, Leicester settled into the game. Wilfred Ndidi sent a free header wide from James Maddison’s corner while Maddison and Jamie Vardy were foiled by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

The decisive moment came 10 minutes into the second half when winger Demarai Gray steered home a neat volley with his left foot beyond Etheridge after a precise low cross from Ben Chilwell.

Gray raised his eyes and his arms to the heavens as if to thank Vichai, and all of Leicester’s players, including goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, raced to the corner of the ground where their fans were in celebration.

The scorer was not spared any sentiment, however, and was promptly booked for taking his shirt off to reveal a T-shirt that read ‘For Khun Vichai’.

On the hour mark, Leicester fans delivered another tribute to their late owner when they sang ‘There’s Only One Vichai’, waving their scarves aloft.

After the final whistle, Leicester’s players and staff stood to applaud their fans for several minutes, taking in the chants of “Vichai” and “Champions of England, you made us sing that”.

AFP

Leicester City Pay Emotional Tribute To Late Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Fans react during a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Leicester City helicopter crash which killed Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha ahead of the English Premier League football match between Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on November 3, 2018. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Leicester’s grief-stricken players paid an emotional tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha ahead of their Premier League clash at Cardiff on Saturday as the devastated club returned to action for the first time since their owner’s tragic death.

Thai billionaire Vichai was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed outside Leicester’s King Power Stadium following last Saturday’s match against West Ham.

The horrific accident triggered a week of mourning in Leicester and around the world of football.

Vichai was adored in Leicester after his eight-year reign peaked in 2016 when the 5,000-1 outsiders became Premier League champions in astonishing style.

With Vichai’s funeral underway on Saturday in Bangkok, Leicester headed to Cardiff for a match that served as a chance to honour their late owner and begin the healing process.

Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Cardiff ensured Leicester’s grieving fans and players were received with sympathy and understanding.

The Bluebirds introduced the hashtag ‘TogetherForLeicester’ for the game to show unity following a tragedy that rendered the action on the pitch irrelevant.

Cardiff owner Vincent Tan paid tribute to Vichai in the matchday programme.

“This week the thoughts and prayers of Cardiff City Football Club have been with our friends at Leicester City,” the message read.

“Today, in the saddest of circumstances, we stand alongside them in memory of those lost last weekend.

“The Leicester players, ahead of that memorable title-winning season, needed to have belief instilled in them.

“It emanated from Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The world of football lost a true pioneer and visionary seven days ago, though one whose legacy will live forever.”

Vichai was adored in Leicester where his eight-year reign peaked in 2016 as the 5,000-1 outsiders became Premier League champions in astonishing style. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Sombre Leicester supporters unfurled a Thai flag saying ‘Khun Vichai Then Now and Forever Your Ambition Achieved Our Dreams’ outside the away end before the turnstiles opened.

Once inside the ground, most Leicester fans wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘The Boss’ and a picture of Vichai on the front, and on the back ‘Khun Vichai You Will Be Forever In Our Hearts’.

The players warmed up in similar T-shirts over their training gear.

One of the most poignant moments came when Leicester’s players turned to the Cardiff supporters a few yards along the stand from their own fans and were greeted by huge applause, reflecting the universal sympathy for the heart-broken team.

A giant Thai flag with both clubs’ crests on it and in giant lettering ‘RIP Vichai’ was passed from the home fans to the visiting supporters.

A wreath on the field ahead of kick-off, with Leicester’s entire squad and club staff linking arms on the centre circle for an impeccably observed minute’s silence before the game, while fans held their scarves aloft in tribute to their much-loved owner.

Three minutes into the match, Leicester’s fans broke into a rendition of ‘When You’re Smiling’, the anthem that sound-tracked happier days during the club’s title triumph.

AFP

Leicester City Set For Emotional Return To Action After Vichai Tragedy

A Buddhist monk lay tributes by a photograph of Leicester City Football Club’s Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 31, 2018. Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

United in sorrow following the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, grief-stricken Leicester will make an emotional return to action at Cardiff on Saturday.

Thai billionaire Vichai was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed outside Leicester’s King Power Stadium following last Saturday’s match against West Ham.

The tragedy rocked the football world, with Leicester’s stunned players joining mourners who turned the King Power into a shrine with flowers and tributes to the charismatic Vichai.

With his vast investment and boundless enthusiasm, Vichai was the inspiration for Leicester’s incredible Premier League title triumph as 5,000-1 outsiders in 2016.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has been praised for turning Leicester City into a family.
Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

While results on the pitch pale in comparison to the trauma of Vichai’s death, Claude Puel’s side will play this weekend for the first time since the crash.

Tuesday’s League Cup home game against Southampton came too soon for Leicester, who postponed the tie to allow more time for the city to come to terms with the accident.

But they have agreed to play the Premier League fixture in South Wales in a bid to start the healing process.

A minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off at the Cardiff City Stadium and players will wear black armbands in Vichai’s honour.

“Playing football has not been on our minds this last week but for this weekend and all matches after we will play to honour and remember a man who did so much for our club,” Puel said.

“The result is not important, but our desire to give our best to honour our chairman, that is the most important thing.”

People pause to view and pay their respects at the tributes laid outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on November 1, 2018.
Photo: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

As the shrine to Vichai grew bigger by the day, thousands of fans were joined throughout the week by former boss Claudio Ranieri, who led Leicester to their Premier League crown, as well as members of Vichai’s family and the club’s players.

Leicester stars Kasper Schmeichel and Jamie Vardy were visibly upset when Vichai’s devastated son Aiyawatt, the Leicester vice-chairman, made his way round the team to shake hands and receive hugs of condolence.

Reflecting the sense of shock around a city that benefitted from Vichai’s charitable donations as well as his commitment to the football team, Cliff Ginnetta, chairman of Leicester Supporters’ Club, said: “This has shaken everyone to the core. He was the boss, he was part of the fabric.

“You saw him in the stands, always with his scarf on, and it’s amazing the difference he made and how he was so respected by the fans.”

Puel had worked with Vichai for a season and a half, giving him plenty of time to understand how the Thai businessman had become part of the fabric of the club.

‘He truly was loved’

“Vichai made Leicester City into what it is. He made it a family and made a dream. He invested in the club, the city and in the people,” he said.

“He truly was loved by everyone. All the players are devastated. It’s a difficult moment.

“To see all of the messages and the flowers and shirts outside the stadium this week show how many lives he touched.”

Leicester’s fairytale reign as English champions is a glorious memory that will stand forever as a tribute to Vichai’s eight years as owner.

But his death leaves Leicester’s future shrouded in uncertainty as fans wait to discover who will take the reins in the boardroom.

Aiyawatt spoke emotionally about continuing his father’s legacy and, if he does take over, he will need the kind of sensitive touch that Vichai displayed to guide Leicester through such a turbulent period.

“I’m extremely proud to have such an extraordinary father. From him, I have received a very big mission and legacy to pass on and I intend to do just that,” Aiyawatt said.

“He loved his family. He made Leicester City into a family. And nothing would make him prouder than to see how the Leicester City family that he built is supporting each other through a time of such sadness.

“Today, he has left me with a legacy to continue and I will do everything I can to carry on his big vision and dreams.”

For now, Leicester will focus on finding solace on the pitch.

Puel’s team, currently 12th in the Premier League, are without a victory in their last three games.

AFP

Leicester City’s Thai Chairman Killed In Helicopter Crash

 

Leicester City’s Thai billionaire boss was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed and burst into flames in the Premier League side’s stadium car park moments after taking off from the pitch, the club said on Sunday.

A stream of fans already fearing the worst had laid out flowers, football scarves and Buddhist prayers outside the club’s King Power stadium after Saturday’s accident in tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha — the man they credit for an against-all-odds Premier League victory in 2016.

“The world has lost a great man,” the club said in a statement.

“Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the club that is now his legacy,” it said.

A book of condolence will be opened at the stadium from Tuesday and the team has postponed its upcoming League Cup fixture against Southampton.

“Everyone at the Club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time,” the statement said.

Police named the four other victims as Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, two members of Vichai’s staff, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

Vichai, 60, the owner of Thailand’s King Power duty-free empire, was a regular at matches who used to fly to and from home games.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is credited with turning Leicester City into a family and guiding the club to pull off one of the most memorable achievements in football.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

The blue chopper took off from the middle of the pitch once the stadium had emptied after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.

Eyewitnesses said the helicopter appeared to develop a mechanical problem in its rear propeller shortly after takeoff.

Images showed orange balls of flame engulfing the wreckage in the car park of the stadium where just two years ago Leicester celebrated the most unlikely of Premier League title triumphs.

“Struggling to find the right words….but to me, you are a legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club,” Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, one of the heroes of that success, posted on Instagram.

“Thank you for everything you did for me, my family and our club. I will truly miss you…. may you rest in peace… #theboss”

‘Sense of family’

Prayers and tributes poured in from the footballing world and beyond for the jovial man many credit with bringing glory to the central English city with the miracle-making club.

“He’s put Leicester on the map,” supporter Cathy Dann, 55, told AFP.

“He’s made us big,” she said, as aviation experts picked through small pieces of wreckage scattered on the stadium’s edge.

Among the tributes was an image of Ganesh — a Hindu god also seen in Thai Buddhist temples.

A minute’s silence was observed before the whistle of Sunday’s Premier League matches.

“It is a family business and they have instilled this sense of family not just throughout the club but into the city as well,” Andrew Hulley, the team’s chaplain for the past seven years, said.

Football fans in Bangkok said Vichai had helped develop the sport in Thailand as well, bringing the Southeast Asian country greater recognition in the sporting world.

“He is an important person who has raised the bar of Thai football further,” Apichart Jitratkavee, a Leicester fan in the Thai capital, said.

Chamat Uchukanokkul, 39, said Vichai was “an inspiration to Thais… He showed that we can do anything if we set our minds to do it”.

Vichai bought Leicester City in 2010 and moved to chairman the following February, pouring millions into the team and becoming a beloved figure in the club and the city — a feat rarely achieved by the Premier League’s foreign owners.

5,000-1 odds

It was under Vichai’s ownership that Leicester crafted one of the biggest fairy tales in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title.

Vichai’s investments in the club helped return them to the Premier League from the second-tier Championship in 2014.

Languishing at the very bottom of the table for most of the 2014/15 season, the Foxes, as the team are nicknamed, then engineered what fans now fondly refer to as the “Great Escape”, winning seven of their last nine matches.

They ended up finishing 14th, securing another season in Europe’s richest league in 2015/16.

But not even their most devout fans could have imagined what happened next.

Vardy scored in 11 consecutive matches, propelling the men in blue to a title without parallel in Premier League history.

The impact made by Leicester’s remarkable rise under Vichai across the continent was reflected as Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid both expressed their condolences.

“The club wants to show their condolences to his family, his friends and all the Leicester fans,” said European champions Madrid in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the whole @lcfc family. Rest in peace,” Barca posted on Twitter.

AFP

 

Fans React After Leicester City Helicopter Crash

A boy arranges a club scarf around floral tributes piled outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 28, 2018, after a helicopter belonging to the club’s Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed outside the stadium/ AFP

 

Fans laid down football scarves and shirts outside Leicester City’s King Power Stadium on Sunday, a day after a helicopter belonging to the club’s Thai owner crashed outside the grounds.

Dozens of candles and flowers could also be seen among the tributes, as well as an image of Ganesh — a Hindu god often found at Thai Buddhist temples.

“I was really upset, I can’t get to sleep over it,” Kanti Patel, a Leicester City fan, told AFP as emergency workers pored over the crash site.

There was no confirmation whether 60-year-old billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who frequently flies to and from Leicester’s home games by helicopter, was on board the aircraft.

But many in the city in central England and in Vichai’s homeland already feared the worst for the man they credit with the club’s against-all-odds Premier League title victory in 2016.

“It means a lot to me, he did a lot for the club,” Patel said.

“To be honest I don’t know what to say but I can’t get over it. Since him being with the club the club has done well, and I don’t know what’s going to happen now.”

Another fan, Tom Lievers, arrived with a “Champions” scarf to pay tribute to Vichai.

“Well you know where we were when he bought the club — we were absolutely nowhere. So I brought down my ‘Champions’ scarf because he made us champions.”

Andrew Aldwinckle said: “He was more like he was a supporter, a proper supporter, rather than a money man. He was one of the crowd. As far as we’re concerned, that’s it.”

Steve Walton, who wore the club’s blue hat, said: “I think there’s a lot of Leicester fans around the world — not just in Leicester, but around the world — who I think will be devastated and he meant a lot to the fans.”

Vichai also brought Thailand greater recognition in the international sporting world, developing the Southeast Asian country’s football scene.

At a football game in central Bangkok, Leicester City fan Apichart Jitratkavee said: “He is an important person who has raised the bar of Thai football further.

“There were projects by Leicester City to select Thai teenagers to train in the club’s academy. They will have a chance to serve the nation in the future.”

Another fan, Nathavut Sirimontaporn, said Vichai has brought “benefits” to Thai football.

“I think having him as an owner of the Leicester City made people know Thailand more,” he said.

Fears For Leicester City’s Thai Chairman After Helicopter Crash

Smoke rises from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed in a car park outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 27, 2018. A helicopter on Saturday crashed near the football stadium in the central UK city of Leicester, police said. The crash took place hours after Leicester drew 1-1 with West Ham in a Premier League match at the King Power Stadium. Sky Sports broadcast pictures of what it said was the helicopter in flames, reporting it belonged to Leicester City Football Club’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Leicester City’s charismatic Thai chairman was the subject of growing concerns on Sunday after a helicopter belonging to the billionaire crashed and burst into flames in the stadium carpark shortly after taking off from the club’s pitch.

There was no confirmation whether London-based Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who frequently flies to and from Leicester’s home games by helicopter, was on board the aircraft which appeared to develop mechanical problems.

The BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent tweeted that a “source close to the family” had confirmed he was on board, but there was no word from Leicester City or from Thai officials of King Power, Vichai’s duty-free shopping empire.

Images showed smoke rising from the fiery wreckage in the carpark at King Power Stadium — the scene of unbridled jubilation after Leicester’s against-all-odds Premier League title victory in 2016.

Freelance photographer Ryan Brown, who was covering Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham, told BBC Radio 5 Live that he saw the helicopter rise out of the stadium before it crashed.

“Literally the engine stopped and I turned around, and it made a bit of a whirring noise. It turned silent, blades started spinning and then there was a big bang,” he said.

He said he saw “a huge fireball” when he ran to the scene.

None of the identities of the pilot or passengers was revealed, and there was also no information about whether anyone on the ground was injured.

“We are assisting Leicestershire Police and the emergency services in dealing with a major incident at King Power Stadium,” the club said in a statement.

– ‘Heartbreaking’ –
As expressions of concern poured in from around the football world, England legend Gary Lineker, a former Leicester player and host of the BBC’s Match of the Day, tweeted: “That was the most difficult @BBCMOTD I’ve ever hosted… A terrible tragedy. Heartbreaking.”

Leicester footballers Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire both tweeted praying hands emojis and West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta, who also played in Saturday’s game, tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in the helicopter accident at Leicester City.”

Nualphan Lamsam or Madam Pang, an influential figure in Thai football who manages the national women’s team, sent “moral support to Vichai and family” in a post on Facebook.

Vichai bought Leicester City in 2010 and became chairman the following February, pouring millions into the team and becoming a beloved figure in the club and the city — a feat not always achieved by the Premier League’s foreign owners.

“Thoughts and prayers with all — particularly owners who’ve done so much for Club and our City,” Leicester’s mayor Peter Soulsby tweeted.

Sky Sports said the helicopter took off from the pitch between 1930 and 1945 GMT but developed problems shortly afterwards with its tail rotor.

The local ambulance service said it was alerted at 2138 GMT.

“We sent a doctor, two paramedics in ambulance cars, a crewed ambulance and our Hazardous Area Response Team, with the first resource arriving within two minutes of the call,” it tweeted.

Air crash investigators were also examining the scene.

– Leicester’s miracle –
It was under Vichai’s ownership that Leicester crafted one of the biggest fairy-tales in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title.

Vichai made major investments in the club after his purchase, returning them to England’s Premier League from the second-tier Championship in 2014.

They initially seemed outclassed by richer and more established clubs from London, Liverpool and Manchester, languishing at the very bottom the table for most of the 2014-15 season.

The Foxes, as the team are nicknamed, then engineered what fans now fondly refer to as the “Great Escape”, winning seven of their last nine matches.

They ended up finishing 14th, securing themselves another season in Europe’s richest league in 2015/16.

But not even their most devout fans could have imagined what happened next.

Vardy, signed from non-league Fleetwood Town, scored in 11 consecutive matches, propelling the men in blue to a title without parallel in Premier League history.

The success also qualified them for the first time for the lucrative Champions League, the pinnacle of European football played by the continent’s most successful sides, including Barcelona and Real Madrid.

There, Leicester City defied the odds yet again, winning their group before eventually losing their quarter-final 2-1 over two legs to Atletico Madrid..

Leicester City Owner’s Helicopter Crashes

Smoke rises from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed in a car park outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 27, 2018.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

A helicopter that crashed on Saturday near the stadium of UK football club Leicester City belonged to Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a report said.

Sky Sports broadcast pictures of what it said was the helicopter in flames, reporting it belonged to the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The helicopter crashed in the club’s car park close to its King Power Stadium following Saturday’s Premier League game against West Ham.

Sky Sports said the helicopter took off from the pitch between 8.30pm-8.45pm local time (1930-1945 GMT) but developed problems shortly afterwards with its tail rotor.

“We are dealing with an incident in the vicinity of the King Power Stadium. Emergency services are aware and dealing,” the police said.

Thai businessman Srivaddhanaprabha, who has poured millions into the club, often leaves the stadium in his helicopter, which takes off from the pitch, when he attends a Leicester home game.

It is not clear if Srivaddhanaprabha was on board or not and the identities of the pilot and passengers on board on have not yet been confirmed. It is also not yet known if anyone on the ground was injured.

A witness told Sky News, “I hope they’re okay. Doesn’t seem like they have had much of a chance. Just burst into flames.”

The ambulance service tweeted, “We are also in attendance and will update when possible.”

Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club in 2010 and became chairman the following February.

It was under the ownership of Srivaddhanaprabha that Leicester created one of the biggest shocks in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000/1 outsiders for the title.

AFP

Helicopter Crashes Near UK Football Stadium

Smoke rises from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed in a car park outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 27, 2018. 
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

A helicopter crashed near the football stadium in the central UK city of Leicester on Saturday, police said.

Sky Sports broadcast pictures of what it said was the helicopter in flames, reporting it belonged to Leicester City Football Club’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

The crash took place hours after Leicester drew 1-1 with West Ham in a Premier League match at the King Power Stadium.

Sky Sports said the helicopter took off from the pitch between 8.30pm-8.45pm local time (1930-1945 GMT) but developed problems shortly afterward with its tail rotor and crashed in a nearby car park.

Leicestershire Police tweeted, “We are dealing with an incident in the vicinity of the King Power Stadium. Emergency services are aware and dealing.”

The ambulance service also tweeted, “We are also in attendance and will update when possible.”

Meanwhile, broadcaster and former Leicester footballer Gary Lineker tweeted: “Hearing that the Leicester City owners’ helicopter has crashed in the club’s car park.”

In this file photo taken on April 29, 2015, an helicopter reportedly owned by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner of Leicester City football club lands on the pitch of the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 29, 2015. It is, however, not clear if it is the same one that crashed. Photos: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

AFP

Leicester Complete Double Defender Swoop

Leicester City

 

Leicester City bolstered their defensive options on Thursday with the signings of Croatian Filip Benkovic and Turkish international Caglar Soyuncu.

Despite adding two centre-backs on deadline day for Premier League clubs, Leicester resisted interest from Manchester United for England international Harry Maguire.

The two sides meet on Friday in the opening game of the Premier League season at Old Trafford.

Soyuncu, 22, joins from German side Freiburg in a deal worth a reported £19 million ($24.5 million).

Croatian under-21 international Benkovic will reportedly cost the Foxes £13 million from Dinamo Zagreb.

The double swoop takes Leicester’s summer spending over £100 million after moves for Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Danny Ward and Rachid Ghezzal.

AFP