Vichai Raksriaksorn (now Srivaddhanaprabha) took over Leicester City in 2010, as part of a Thai-led consortium called Asian Football Investments, before becoming chairman in 2011. Along with vice-chairman and son Aiyawatt (Khun Top), these two men have helped deliver outstanding success for the football club.
Since becoming chairmen, they have invested heavily into all aspects of the club, including transfers, the stadium, training ground, writing off millions of pounds worth of debt and much more. The 8 years of the Thai’s tenure have so far been excellent for the club, and there are reasons to be excited for the future.
New training ground is a big step forward
Earlier this month, the club unveiled plans for a new “world class” training facility, located in the Charnwood area of Leicestershire. It will take over from resident training site Belvoir Drive, and the new site is posed to rival the UK’s best training grounds. It is described as the latest phase of the King Power group’s vision for Leicester City Football Club.
The owners’ investment in a new state-of-the-art training ground shows they are still very committed to the club’s future. Discussing the new training ground, Top said that his ambition is for the club to attract elite players from around the world, and by moving to such a facility, it will not only help attract high profile players, it is also a significant step in the stature of the football club.
With the quality of the new training ground, Vichai and Top are showing they obviously want to compete with whoever for the highly sought-after players across Europe.
Stadium expansion - the next development of infrastructure?
With the club announcing plans for a new training facility, could stadium expansion be the next step of infrastructure investment? The current capacity of the King Power has been a subject brought up frequently over the last couple of years, mainly after the club’s title win in 2015/16.
This is our fourth season back in the top flight, and we currently sit 8th in the league. Before any stadium increase takes place, the owners have previously alluded to the fact that the club would have to be established and a highly competent team in the Premier League. It’s something which is probably always on the agenda for Vichai and Top, and it’s likely to be in the long term plan for the club.
The most likely increase it would seem would be to 42,000, an additional 10,00 on the current 32,000. It is thought the East Stand is the most likely stand for expansion, but the North and South Stands are also thought to have the capability to be built on.
Despite attendances figures always being high, games against the bottom half are tending to make general sale these days, so filling another 5-10k seats regularly would seem unlikely, depending on league form of course.
The owners purchased the stadium in 2013, so any decisions on Filbert Way’s future is currently entirely there’s. If they did increase the capacity of the ground though, it would be another big step in the club progressing it’s status and size. It would be a key draw for any potential future incoming players.
Exciting times ahead
In 2014 following Leicester’s promotion back to the Premier League, Vichai stated his intention for the Foxes to break into the top five within five years. That has already been achieved, and UEFA Champions League qualification is sure to be something the owners will want again in the future.
They have however, had the hindsight to know the club must be a top flight regular, before making the next step and challenging the top six. Claude Puel has also shared the ambition, but has admitted it isn’t possible just now.
On the subject of exciting times ahead, it’s also worth noting the progress of the club’s U23s, who are currently second in the Premier League 2 Division One table. There are a number of talented players within the development set-up who could be regular first teamers in the near future.
Vichai and Top’s long term plan for Leicester City is exciting when you consider the future possibilities. The latest installment of a new training ground, as part of the owners long term vision for the club, signals the desire for more silverware and success.