Manchester United host Thai owned Leicester City at Old Trafford on Sunday. If Leicester win, they will become the most surprising English Premier League winnners ever.
If they fail to clinch the title at Old Trafford they can win it next week at Leicester’s King Power Stadium. With three games left, they now need only three points to be crowned Champions. It would be a stumble worse than Devon Loch if they didn’t win it now.
King Power owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, owns the Asian Football Investments (AFI) consortium that bought the club three years ago from Milan Mandaric whilst the club were at the bottom of the Championship . Yes that’s right bottom of the Premier League last year, 3 years ago bottom of the Championship – the old League Divsion Two.
Leicester’s meteoric rise is due to many factors, not least the likeable manager Claudio Ranieri’s wise leadership and of course the profilic goalscoring of Jamie Vardy. But the investment from Thailand should certainly take some credit and the owners must be delighted.
Leicester’s sponsor King Power made sure that Leicester City shirts were the only football shirts you could buy at Suvarnabhumi airport. A close friend of mine, a life long supporter of Leicester who lives in Thailand, often joked that he was the only one to have bought one. That is no longer the case as they actually SOLD OUT last month. Expect Leicester’s popularity around the world to increase exponentially, especially in Thailand. The EPL is hugely popular in Thailand and judging by Man United’s increase in popularity since the 90’s, the Thais respond to success. The BBC website recently published an article “How Thailand is Falling in Love with Leicester City” that says it all. The Telegraph published an article with exactly the same title a month later. To those that say Thais will quickly fall out of love with Leicester if they don’t win it again , well, Liverpool have never won the Premier League but remain one of Thailand’s favourites so let’s wait and see.
Leicester’s title this year, if and when they win it, will be down to a combination of the right talent, Ranieri, Vardy and EPL Player of Year Mahrez and notable others together with sensible investment. A combination of factors contributing to the right form at the right time. Liverpool’s title challenge in Gerard’s last year with an unstoppable Suarez actually claimed more points than Leicester can this year but Man City are not in winning form this year – at least not in the Premier League – though they still managed to reach the Champions League Semi-finals.
Buriram has it’s own connections to Leicester, sharing an ex coach/manager Scott Cooper and having employed coaches from Leicester’s academy. At the start of this season, there were 16 Thai youngsters at Leicester’s academy. Let’s hope the ongoing collaboration helps both English and Thai football.
Most of all, good luck to Leicester City today from all at Buriram Times and probably most neutral football fans.
Come on Leicester!
Thailand News Round Up:
The stand out new this week was the horrific attack on a Welsh family in Hua Hin, a video of which was all over the net and not for the faint hearted. Buriram Times’ best wishes go out to them for a speedy recovery. Although this was apalling to watch, everyone who knows Thailand knows this type of thing is not the norm and at worst very infrequent. But the bad press for Thailand brigade in the UK automatically bring up all the other bad news from the last year to do with Thailand. I’m not saying violence doesn’t happen in Thailand just that it happens everywhere else as well. What do you think? Comments open all day Sunday.
Visitors to Thailand were up 15% during the last high season – recently reported exclusively by Buriram Times.
More good news – Thailand has once again become the world’s number one rice exporter (Bangkok post), Air Asia is considering setting up their HQ in Thailand and building another airport.
Have a great Sunday.