Leicester's City Progress Is Proof That Vichai's Vision Has Become A Reality

It has been three years since we tragically lost the loveable Leicester owner
08:35, 27 Oct 2021

On this day three years ago Leicester City lost their influential owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a tragic helicopter crash. His death, along with the four others on that flight -  Kaveporn Punpare, Nusara Suknamai, pilot Eric Swaffer and his girlfriend, Izabela Roza Lechowicz - was heartbreaking for the entire footballing world, but in particular, the community club he had helped rescue. 

Vichai got to see the greatest underdog story football has ever produced become a reality, as his 5000/1 Leicester underdogs won the Premier League under Claudio Ranieri. His wonderful work  in the East Midlands may have peaked on that sunny afternoon in May 2016, but the legacy he has left behind has further certified Leicester as one of the emerging forces in the Premier League. 

His death was tragic, but the way the club have responded to that tragedy has been more than commendable. They have not stood still and allowed themselves to regress, but instead made major strides forwards under Vichai’s son, Aiyawatt - affectionately known as Khun ‘Top’ to the staff and the players at the club. He celebrated on the pitch with the players as they won the FA Cup in May and the bond between the owner and those on the pitch is something rarely seen in modern football. 

But he has also made seismic moves in other areas. 

The major development that has occurred in the past three years has been the building and opening of Leicester’s brand-new £100m training ground - which is undoubtedly one of the finest in the country. This state-of-the-art facility, which covers 185 acres and features its own private golf course, makes the club a far more attractive proposition to international players and is a real statement of intent for a club who have put the building blocks in place (quite literally) to make sure their title win can fund long-term success. 

The regeneration of the area around the stadium and the arena itself that was proposed this week, is another major step for this forward-thinking club. Although an iconic and loved old stadium that held its own in the top flight for several years, Filbert Street was not fit for purpose by the time it closed in 2002. The King Power has served its purpose wonderfully for the past two decades, even attracting a higher average attendance when the club was in League One than they managed for the final season at Filbert Street in the Premier League - but now it is time for the next step to be taken and the club to grow once more. 

The move towards a hybrid stadium, with the environment moving towards the front of our minds is another positive step. The expanded east stand will feature a new-look roof and expand the capacity to 40,000 - 18,000 more than Filbert Street could hold when it closed. The space outside the ground will also be redeveloped to include a cycle hub, and energy centre, a hotel and a new event space - all of which will bring more revenue to both the football club and the city as a whole. 

This is tangible progress, unfolding before our very eyes. 

When you look to the north-east and the influx of money Newcastle United have just received after their takeover, they should look to Leicester as an example of how to steadily progress a club - and how to invest sensibly in things such as the training ground and the academy. 

Vichai’s death was utterly heart-breaking. But three years on, the club he helped transform are still making progress on and off the pitch. His vision is now turning into a reality and the legacy he has left behind has transformed the fortunes of this football club, and the entire city.

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