A helicopter belonging to Leicester City’s owner crashed in the stadium grounds of the British football club. The club has confirmed that all five aboard, including chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, have perished.
Fans and members of the public laid bouquets outside Leicester City’s stadium the morning after a helicopter belonging to the football club’s Thai owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, crashed in the stadium grounds.
Later on Sunday, the club confirmed that all five people who had been on board the aircraft had died, including Srivaddhanaprabha.
Srivaddhanaprabha,61, was known to fans as a smiling, benevolent man who gave away free beers and hot dogs on his birthday and brought the club its fairytale English Premier League title in 2016. He was also famous for arriving and leaving the stadium in his helicopter at home games.
“It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was among those to have tragically lost their lives on Saturday evening when a helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside King Power stadium,” the club said in a statement, without naming the other four victims.
Eye witnesses reported seeing the helicopter plummet to the grounds shortly after a Premier League game between Leicester and West Ham on Saturday night.
Footage depicting the crash site showed large flames engulfing the machine.
Football community shocked
A number of clubs and prominent football figures have expressed their condolences over the incident.
Gary Lineker, a former English footballer and sports analyst, called the crash “a terrible tragedy.”
“That was the most difficult @BBCMOTD I’ve ever hosted. Thoughts are with everyone at Leicester City. A terrible tragedy. Heartbreaking,” Lineker wrote on Twitter.
Italian club Juventus’ Argentine striker Paula Dybala also dubbed the crash “a sad day for football” in a tweet.
Leicester’s Cinderella story
Vichai, who was chairman of the Thai travel retail group King Power International, became the owner of the football club in 2010 and provided it with badly needed investment. Leicester went on to win the English Premier League title in 2016.
The victory was a shock to global football. The odds of the team winning the championship had been 5000 to 1 at the beginning of the season.
The 61-year-old Thai tycoon was known for his warmth and was frequently seen at the stadium handing out free beer and doughnuts. But he had been guarded about his private life, granting only a few interviews and deferring many public appearances to his son Aiyawatt.