Leicester City Football Club chairman Vichai dies in heli crash


BANGKOK – Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (picture), the Thai owner of the Leicester City Football Club (LCFC), died in the helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, on Saturday, the club confirmed in a statement.

“It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprahba 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. None of the five people on board survived,” it said.

Five people, including Vichai, were on board the aircraft which came down in a car park near the stadium shortly after 8.30 pm and was engulfed in flames.

The Leicestershire Police had, in a tweet on Monday, said that those believed to be in the helicopter were Vichai, two members of his staff, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn  Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and another passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

The club statement said that in Vichai, the world has lost a great man, a kind and generous man.  

“Leicester was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the Club that is now his legacy,” said the club.

Vichai, 60, bought the football club in 2010 and turned its fortune around. The small club, then under manager Claudio Ranieri, beat the odds and became the Premier League champion two years ago in what many football pundits described as a football fairytale.

The club also progressed to the quarter-final of the Champions League but was knocked out by Spanish giant Atletico Madrid.

The Thai tycoon was ranked as the country’s fifth richest person by Forbes in 2018 with a US$4.9 billion fortune and is the key figure behind Thailand’s largest duty-free shopping giant, King Power International.

Founded in 1989, the company operates duty-free shops at Thailand’s international airports and shopping malls in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya.

Besides the duty-free shops, his company also purchased  39 per cent equity stake in the Thai unit of the budget carrier, Air Asia, for US$225 million.

In his latest business dealings, Vichai, who is married to Aimon, and have four children Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong and Aiyawatt, had bought Thailand’s tallest mixed-used tower, Mahanakorn, in a 14 billion Baht (RM1.84 billion) deal.

The family was bestowed the family surname, Srivaddhanaprabha, which means “light of progressive glory”, by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2012.