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
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