Le­ices­ter: Against all odds

A fe­male CEO who took some risks and a coach they said was past his prime moulded a bar­gain base­ment side into a team of win­ners. S’Busiso Mseleku tells the real-life fairy tale of the Le­ices­ter City vic­tory

CityPress - - Sport -

How does R10.8 mil­lion grab you? Well, that’s how much you would be worth to­day had you put R2 167 on Le­ices­ter City win­ning the English Premier­ship ti­tle when the cur­rent sea­son be­gan last Au­gust. You see, the club that sur­vived last sea­son, by win­ning seven of their last nine league matches af­ter spend­ing six months at the foot of the ta­ble, be­gan this sea­son on 5 000-1 odds to win the ti­tle.

The book­ies are usu­ally never wrong. It is their busi­ness to make as much money as pos­si­ble from those fa­natic enough to bet on foot­ball, a game that de­pends on the mood and per­for­mance of 22 men run­ning af­ter a pigskin ball on the field.

It would ap­pear, based on the in­for­ma­tion they had at hand, that the book­ies were not far off the mark.

Here are just some of the odds that could have counted against The Foxes win­ning the league at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son:

City have never won the ti­tle in their 132-year his­tory.

Su­san Whe­lan had no foot­ball back­ground when she was ap­pointed CEO in 2010 af­ter sev­eral years of work­ing suc­cess­fully in trade and re­tail.

She hired 64-year-old Clau­dio Ranieri in July last year, amid some re­sis­tance from some stake­hold­ers.

And here is some in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion:

They come from an unglam­orous East Mid­lands town of Le­ices­ter (pro­nounced Less-ter, mak­ing most peo­ple from out­side the UK mis­pro­nounce it) with 330 000 res­i­dents. Le­ices­ter is 160km out of Lon­don. One of the most fa­mous res­i­dents is English pop singer, En­gel­bert Humperdinck. (Ever heard of him? Well, I can’t blame you if you haven’t. He was born in Chen­nai, In­dia, 80 years ago on May 2 1936 and is best known for his 1967 songs Re­lease Me and The Last Waltz.)

The town is fa­mous for its ex­cel­lent lo­cal cheese and David At­ten­bor­ough.

Their en­tire squad cost about R1.1 bil­lion, which is al­most what Manch­ester City paid for Bel­gian star Kevin de Bruyne.

Le­ices­ter City’s Al­ge­rian player, Riyad Mahrez, who picked up the Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Player of the Year award last week, was bought for about R11.2 mil­lion.

The club was bought by Thai bil­lion­aire Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha in 2010 for R844 mil­lion.

It is not known whether the owner of King Power, a re­tailer that en­joys a near-mo­nop­oly in Thai­land air­ports, is a gam­bling man.

But to­day, his in­vest­ment six years ago is worth 11 times more. Au­gust 1 2015 - 5 000-1 Septem­ber 1 2015 - 1 500-1 Oc­to­ber 1 2015 - 1 500-1 Novem­ber 1 2015 - 500-1 De­cem­ber 1 2015 - 66-1 Jan­uary 1 2016 - 16-1 Fe­bru­ary 1 2016 - 7-1 March 1 2016 - 3-1 April 1 2016 - 4-7 April 25 2016 - 1-16 2014/15: 14th

Man­ager: Cap­tain: Wes Mor­gan (Ja­maica) Owner: King Power In­ter­na­tional Group Chair­man: Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha Ground: King Power Sta­dium (32 312) Kit man­u­fac­turer: Puma Shirt spon­sor: King Power Le­ices­ter City’s win­ning run POINTS

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