Following Leicester City’s game on October 27th there was a helicopter crash outside the clubs stadium that took the life of everyone on-board including the clubs chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and four others as they took off from the stadium to head back to London. I would like to express condolences on behalf of the Missouri S&T community to the families and friends and loved ones of those that lost their lives in the crash.
In 2010 Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha purchased an EFL Champions League team Over the next 6 years the team saw continuous improvement where they won the EFL Champions League in the 2013-14 season. This moved them up to the English Premier league, where against 5,000:1 odds they were the Champions of the 2015-16 season. In more familiar terms this is the equivalent of a minor league baseball team moving to the major leagues and winning The World Series the second season they were in the major leagues. The rise of Leicester was not divine intervention, not some alignment of the stars or some fluke of nature. The rise and success of Leicester was due to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
The Thai billionaire of a duty-free shop empire who in a rare interview claimed that he purchased Leicester because they wore the same colors as his company, King Power Duty Free, was not like other professional sports team owners. Initially skeptical of their new owner, Leicester City fans quickly found Srivaddhanaprabha to be a quiet, humble, and generous man not only personally invested himself into the team, but the fans and the community as well. His first act as chairman of the club was to write off the over $130m dollars of loans the club owed, making them debt free. Srivaddhanaprabha did not stop there, he continuously provided the money that the club needed to improve the playing squad as well as the facilities of the team, including a brand-new training facility. He further engaged fans by providing free bussing to fans for away games, giving away free beer and cake on his birthday, and many other small acts of generosity. His work even extended to the community, where he donated over $2m to Leicester Royal Infirmary. Srivaddhanaprabha became a part of the Leicester community both on and off the field, and the people of Leicester took him in as one of their own.
The passing of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is not just a loss for Leicester City Football Club, it resonates across the world as we all mourn the loss of an excellent Club Chairman, Humanitarian, and all around good human being. Leicester City FC was not a fluke of some foreign aristocrat. Leicester City FC was the result of the dedication of a man who cared and worked to see both the club and the community improve. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will be missed, but he will always remain the humble chairman that took a team to the top against 5,000:1 odds that not only invested himself into soccer, but in the betterment of the community around him.