Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha died in the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of four others outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday night.
Thousands of supporters flocked to the ground on Sunday, laying hundreds of flowers, shirts and scarves, in a sign of the depth of feeling for the Thai businessman.
Training was cancelled for Leicester’s players, who were still in a state of shock. Tuesday’s Carabao Cup game against Southampton has been called off.
FULL CLUB STATEMENT FROM LEICESTER CITY
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. None of the five people on-board survived.
The primary thoughts of everyone at the club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss.
In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City 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.
A book of condolence, which will be shared with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be opened at King Power Stadium from 8am on Tuesday 30 October for supporters wishing to pay their respects.
Supporters unable to visit King Power Stadium that wish to leave a message can do so through an online book of condolence, which will be made available via lcfc.com in due course.
Both Tuesday’s first team fixture against Southampton in the EFL Cup and the Development Squad fixture against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup have been postponed.
Everyone at the club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Vichai’s son and Leicester’s vice-chairman, known as Top, flew over from Bangkok as the club tried to come to terms with the scale of the loss. It is understood that two of Vichai’s assistants and two pilots were also killed.
Crash site investigators have been going through the wreckage since the tragedy struck at 8.30pm following Leicester’s match against West Ham. Formal identification of those on board proved a difficult process.
It is expected the cause of the crash will take time to establish. Eyewitnesses told how the Augusta AW169 helicopter, which had landed minutes earlier after arriving from Belvoir Drive training ground, appeared to suffer a malfunction on take-off from the pitch, sending the aircraft into a tailspin just after rising above the stadium roof.
It then plunged nose first into an empty patch of ground adjacent to car park E behind the east stand and burst into flames visible for half a mile.
Nobody was injured on the ground and there is a belief that the pilot may have steered the helicopter away from busy areas below to contain the impact and save potentially dozens of lives.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was among those who ran towards the site and watched on in a state of numbness and upset. He joined Leicester the year after Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club and had a close relationship with the chairman. He stayed at the ground until after 1.30am.
It has been suggested that director of football Jon Rudkin had at one stage planned to be on the flight but ultimately decided against it. The helicopter had been heading for Luton Airport, where Srivaddhanaprabha would have taken his private jet back to Thailand.
Leicestershire Police cordoned off the crash site on Sunday and erected tarpaulin screens around the scene. Fire engines arrived, with one carrying a digger.
Fans created a sea of tributes outside the north stand, with the area growing throughout the day. Many stayed to read the notes of condolence and reflect on the man responsible for Leicester’s miraculous Premier League triumph.
Ashley Richards, a Leicester supporter of 40 years, was visibly moved as he said: ‘When Vichai first came in I had my reservations. But over the last five, six years the man has done everything. He’s virtually fetched us out of the wilderness. I’ve never heard a bad word against him. It is a big, big loss.’
Martin George, Leicester’s former chairman, said: ‘We’ve had administrations, we’ve had relegations, but nothing like this. It’s so sad. Vichai has been terrific for this club. You couldn’t ask for anybody better in charge. He is a gentleman.
‘He enjoyed the company of people who had like minds, and talked quite happily to them. But of course he had an iron will as well. I came to talk to the directors, express my feelings, and walk round.’
Daniel Connell, 18, has been attending games since 2005. He said: ‘We may not have met him individually but he’s had a massive impact on every Leicester fan’s life. I had to come here.’