Leicester city football club owner confirmed dead

The club is now mourning the death of its 61-year-old owner in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

It is a tragedy that will go down in footballing infamy. The darkest day in Leicester City’s history arrived just two and a half years after the club’s greatest hour.

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Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the much-loved owner of the Foxes, ties together both of these moments.

On May 2, 2016, the man affectionately known as just Vichai celebrated football’s most heart-warming fairy tale as Leicester were miraculously crowned Premier League champions.

But on October 27, 2018, Vichai’s fairy tale would descend into a nightmare. On Saturday evening – following the 1-1 draw with West Ham – the helicopter that collects Vichai after every home match at the King Power Stadium tragically crashed just seconds after take-off.

All five people on board died, including the 61-year-old Vichai. It is a disaster that has rocked football to its very core.

Even before the terrible news had been confirmed, a vigil began outside the ground. Thousands of fans left flowers, and also, according to the BBC, a statue of Ganesha. Ganesha is one of the most important figures in the Hindu religion, known as a “remover of obstacles”.

Srivaddhanaprabha certainly removed obstacles during his lifetime. He treated fans with affection and helped all Foxes live the unthinkable in 2015-16. They began that season 5000-1 outsiders with the bookmarkers, but ended the campaign as the best team in the land.

The team coached by Claudio Ranieri – and led by the previously unheralded Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez – captured the hearts of all football fans across the globe.

But it was Srivaddhanaprabha’s affection for the club – and the club’s affection for him – which ran even deeper. He was an extremely generous man, once laying on free beer, donuts and hot dogs on his own birthday so supporters could celebrate with him.

He also subsidised away travel for fans, capped at £10 per supporter. Two female Foxes interviewed by Sky News after the accident claimed Srivaddhanaprabha had even offered to buy breakfast for the travelling Leicester supporters ahead of next week’s game against Cardiff.

He was similarly generous with the squad; they were each gifted a BMW sports car for winning the title, worth £100,000 each.

This was all a far cry from his humble beginnings; he initially opened a duty-free shop in his native Thailand in 1989 and built it into an an empire now known as King Power Duty Free. His big break came when the company won the contract to provide duty free concessions at airports across the country. He was the fifth-richest person in Thailand at the time of his death, estimated to be worth around £3.8 billion ($4.9bn) by Forbes.

Leicestershire Police has since confirmed that while formal identification has not yet taken place, the five killed people are believed to be Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

The tragic accident happened after Leicester City’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United when Srivaddhanapraba was leaving the stadium.

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