Yesterday evening a helicopter belonging to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai owner of English football club Leicester City, crashed moments after take off. At the time of writing there is no official confirmation of who was on board or the number of casualties, but a number of news agencies have quoted sources saying Vichai was on board. The helicopter has been a regular feature at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium where it was used by Vichai and his family after home matches.
Authorities in England have named Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha as one of the five fatalities in the tragedy. Two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz also lost their lives.
The billionaire Thai businessman bought Leicester City FC in 2010. Under his stewardship, the English football club rose to international prominence with one of the most remarkable sporting stories of all time. Against all odds they secured the English Premier League title in 2016. Even for non-sports fans it was a remarkable story. To put it into context, at the start of their title-winning campaign the odds of Leicester City winning the Premier League were 5,000-1 against. The same odds as Elvis being found alive or Kim Kardashian becoming the U.S. president in 2020. And it was a story that was just as extraordinary off the pitch. Vichai regularly flew in Buddhist monks from Wat Traimit in Bangkok to England so that they could perform religious ceremonies at the King Power Stadium and bless the players.
Vichai made his millions from his King Power duty free shops. Ranked by Forbes Magazine as the fifth richest person in Thailand, Vichai was a man of great influence, as well as wealth, with powerful friends in high places.
The Thai man and his family formed a strong bond with the supporters of Leicester City and the incident last night has rocked the club. A steady stream of Leicester City fans have visited the King Power Stadium today to lay flowers and place football shirts and scarves close to the scene of the crash. The story has been headline news in Thailand too where the English team are known as the ‘Siamese Foxes’.