Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: An Obituary

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In August 2010, when a largely unknown Thai billionaire by the name of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha purchased Leicester City Football Club, no one could have expected that the Foxes would win the Premier League title within six years.

After all, the club had only just been promoted to the Championship and didn’t even own their own stadium.

However, during the 2015/16 campaign, just two seasons after they won promotion from the Championship, Leicester City won the Premier League by ten points in an expectation-defying campaign which they had begun as 5000/1 outsiders.

Jamie Vardy, Riyad Marrez and N’Golo Kanté captured the hearts of fans and neutrals alike, as Claudio Ranieri’s blitzkrieg-esque tactics blew away the league’s established ‘top six’.

Yet, despite the footballing fairy tale he helped create, not much is known about the origins of Khun Vichai except that he made his wealth in the duty-free business. Additionally, the reasons behind the success he enjoyed are also well-debated.

Vichai’s influence on Leicester’s success shouldn’t be played down, however. His effective execution of typical chairman activities such as player and staff recruitment and financial management was supplemented by a personal touch.

Ultimately, Vichai was something different

On his birthday, a free beer and a doughnut were offered to all fans in attendance and Buddhist monks, flown in from Thailand, would bless the pitch and players before every home game.

Further, it has been reported that he made several seven-figure donations to hospitals, charities and infirmaries in the Leicester area.

Ultimately, Vichai was something different. Foreign owners, so often disconnected from fan sentiment and rarely anything more than a distant observer concerned more about profit than people, rarely have a fraction of the impact he has had.

When he and four others died in a helicopter crash outside of the King Power Stadium on the 27th of October, the football community, so often divided along tribal boundaries, rightly united in tribute to a man who had achieved the impossible and shown immense kindness to everyone he met along the way.

May he rest in peace.

Photograph: Peter Woodentop via Flickr

 

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