How Chesterfield FC can learn from Leicester City owner
Sunday confirmed our worst fears, and the city of Leicester and the wider footballing community had to come to terms with an unspeakable loss.
The helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday not only robbed families of loved ones, but also reminded us that there really are so many more important things in life than a game of football.
As a known generous donor to local causes and the architect of Leicester City’s fairy tale Premier League triumph, chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha quickly became one of the most loved figures in Leicester.
When superfan Leigh Herbert describes that tragic day as the worst the club has ever experienced, it becomes clear just how adored and respected the Thai billionaire really was, and still is.
Chesterfield FC Community Trust pays tribute after horror helicopter crash
Wealthy men often come across negative labels, but Srivaddhanaprabha was a man who connected with the Leicester community and, in his own small ways, made it a better place since he purchased the club in 2010.
Clearing the club’s debts and donating millions to the city’s Royal Infirmary hospital, university and new children’s hospital were just a few of his contributions to a city he warmed to so quickly.
When it comes to keeping football fans happy, perhaps it’s the little things which mean the most, and there was no shortage of this at the King Power Stadium.
There was free away travel, scarves, flags, food… And even free booze. For the Premier League-winning squad, the bonuses included a brand-new £100,000 supercar each.
Evident in the thousands of emotional tributes paid by Foxes supporters, it is clear that Srivaddhanaprabha’s gestures – both big and small – have had an incredible impact on the Leicester community.
I’m sure that many Town supporters – possibly too many – have looked at the Leicester chairman’s dedication and thought that there is a lot for Chesterfield to learn from such a generous and kind-hearted man.
Now, we’re not talking brand-new supercars for the players or multimillion-pound donations to local causes, but there are so many of the very smallest of gestures which have been absent and have contributed to disconnection between club and fans, and that includes simply talking.
For all those long journeys the Spireites faithful have made over the past few years to see completely unacceptable performances, there has been little done by the club to show their appreciation for such ongoing loyalty.
High season ticket prices and numerous moments of scandal and controversy have felt like a slap in the face, and too many opportunities to make amends have been missed.
Above all, supporters want to be appreciated for their loyalty and treated fairly with respect for their hard-earned cash. On too many occasions, it has felt as if this were not the case.
Town fans are not asking for a billionaire with millions to splash; they are asking for a club which they can be proud of again.
If I could offer Chesterfield Football Club one piece of advice, it would be to take note from Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and look at how he changed a community for the better.
My thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the families of all those who lost their lives, and I know that the memory of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will live on forever in a city which has nothing but love for such a generous human being.
It is a dark and terrible time for football, and football will mourn together with Leicester.