Bangkok erupts in celebration as it watches Leicester hoist English Premier League trophy
Cheers, spilt beers and confetti met the award of the English Premier League trophy to Leicester City on Saturday at a lively title party laid on by the Foxes’ Thai owners in Bangkok.
Leicester are swiftly becoming the kingdom’s new favourite team, with Thais delighting in the unlikeliest of league victories under the ownership of compatriot, duty-free billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
On a sweaty late Saturday night in Bangkok, hundreds of beer-sodden fans danced and sang at the King Power headquarters where the Foxes’ 3-1 win against Everton was broadcast on a big screen.
As captain Wes Morgan hoisted the trophy aloft on the big screen behind them, jubilant fans jumped into a fountain, with confetti raining down.
Many conceded they knew little about Leicester before Vichai bought the club in 2010.
But Thais are readily changing – or at least doubling-up – their allegiances from old favourites Manchester United and Liverpool to the once-unfashionable Midlands club.
Holding a newly purchased T-shirt of striker Jamie Vardy from a merchandise stall in one hand, and a plastic cup of beer in the other, Rangsee Tuengpant praised the Thai role in the Foxes’ famous title win.
“I’m here for the history of the moment, ” he said.
“We are Thais and we will always follow other Thais who are successful internationally. This is unbelievable,” he said before conceding to “first” being a Manchester City fan.
The King Power big screenings started out with just scores of curious, polite fans – most company employees.
But they have mushroomed over the last few weeks into raucous fan events, complete with flags, claxons and even a metal copy of the Premier League trophy.
Screams erupted as new favourite Vardy struck the penalty to make it 3-0 against an insipid Everton.
“He’s the main player, he scores so many goals,” said Jo, a 25-year-old King Power employee.
“There will be a lot of people when they come to visit.”
The Thai owners have done a U-turn and agreed to an end of season Thai tour.
It comes a year after a close season tour was marred by a racist sex tape scandal that led to three young players being sacked swiftly followed by then manager Nigel Pearson, whose son was among the players featured in the graphic video.
Little known outside of Thailand, King Power has a monopoly on duty free inside the country. Its brand visibility is set to soar with the Foxes’ famous win.
The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the media-shy Vichai and his son Top, who led the team on to the pitch before the trophy presentation.