FAREWELL to the ‘FATHER’ of LEICESTER CITY FC: Mourners gather in Bangkok for Buddhist funeral of Leicester CITY CHAIRMAN a week after he DIED in HORRIFIC HELICOPTER FIREBALL

By Our Premier League Correspondent 

 

DAILYNEWS UG

  • Dozens of mourners have begun to gather for the funeral of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
  • The Leicester City squad is due to make the 12,000 mile round trip to Thailand shortly after their 3pm fixture
  • Vichai, 60, and four members of staff died in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last week
  • Today’s ceremony will begin a seven day funeral procession for the billionaire dubbed ‘a father’ by the players
  • Hundreds of mourners have arrived for the funeral of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in Bangkok today, with Thai royalty, dignitaries and leading sporting figures there to pay tribute to the billionaire businessman.

His funeral comes as it emerges Vichai, 60, and his four staff members, huddled together for comfort in their final moments as their helicopter hurtled to the ground following a reported rotor failure moments after take off.

The five all died in a horrific fireball outside the King Power Stadium last Saturday, just metres away from the thousands of supporters making their way home following a home fixture against West Ham United.

The Leicester City squad is due to make the 12,000 mile round trip to Thailand shortly after their 3pm game against Cardiff, with first team stars including Jamie Vardy keen to pay tribute to the man whose backing helped them secure an unprecedented Premier League trophy in 2016

Thailand’s Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan was one of the first to arrive at the proceedings, flanked by staff.

Dozens of mourners have begun to gather for the funeral of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in Bangkok today, with Thai royalty, dignitaries and leading sporting figures expected to attend. Thailand’s Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan (pictured) was one of the first to arrive, flanked by staff       +29

Dozens of mourners have begun to gather for the funeral of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in Bangkok today, with Thai royalty, dignitaries and leading sporting figures expected to attend. Thailand’s Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan (pictured) was one of the first to arrive, flanked by staff.

As per Buddhist tradition, the funeral will last for several days and in recognition of his standing in the country, the funeral has been granted ‘Royal sponsorship’. The Royal accolade includes a Royal Bathing Rite for the body and a special eight-sided urn will hold his remains

As per Buddhist tradition, the funeral will last for several days and in recognition of his standing in the country, the funeral has been granted ‘Royal sponsorship’. The Royal accolade includes a Royal Bathing Rite for the body and a special eight-sided urn will hold his remains

Vichai (pictured) , 60, two members of staff, the pilot and his partner all died in a horrific helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last Saturday just metres away from thousands of supporters making their way home

Vichai (pictured) , 60, two members of staff, the pilot and his partner all died in a horrific helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last Saturday just metres away from thousands of supporters making their way home

Nualphan Lamsam (centre) president and chief executive officer of Muang Thai Insurance and manager of Thailand women’s national football team arrives at the Wat Thepsirin Buddhist temple

A close friend of the family reportedly told Thai media that businessman’s body was not as badly damaged as others on the helicopter, citing a conversation they had had with Vichai’s son ‘Top’.

‘I was told that… when the crash happened the other victims piled into his father and protected him from the heat,’ ‘Top’ reportedly told the close family friend.

‘I was so happy to see his body was in relatively good condition,’ the friend said quoting the son.

As per Buddhist tradition, the funeral will last for several days and in recognition of his standing in the country, the funeral has been granted ‘Royal sponsorship’.

The Royal accolade includes a Royal Bathing Rite for the body and a special eight-sided urn will hold his remains.

Granting royal bathing rights means family and friends will repeatedly pour scented water over his hands using a special flask. The water is meant to ritually purify the body, bringing blessings.

A vehicle carrying the body of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has arrived at a temple in Bangkok ahead of his funeral later today with Thai royalty, dignitaries and leading sporting figures expected to attend.

The Leicester City squad is due to make the 12,000 mile round trip to Thailand shortly after their 3pm fixture against Cardiff, with first team stars including Jamie Vardy keen to pay tribute to billionaire businessman whose backing helped secure the side an unprecedented Premier League trophy in 2016

Vichai, 60, two members of staff, the pilot and his partner all died in a horrific helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last Saturday just metres away from thousands of supporters making their way home.

A black Ford transit van arrived at Wat Thep Sirin Temple ahead of his funeral which will formally begin the seven day procession.

Vichai rose from having a single store in Bangkok to owning the duty-free King Power empire, whose shops are ubiquitous in Thailand’s tourist-heavy airports.

Using the profits from his monopoly Vichai snagged Leicester City and helped turn it from an unremarkable lower tier club to a surprise winner of the Premier League title beating football giants Manchester United and Chelsea in the process.

Thais were stunned by the loss a man known for having one business success after another, but who owed much of his rise to his canny navigation of Thailand’s unpredictable politics and elite society.

Buddhist monks will recite prayers from religious texts and afterwards the body will be kept for 100 days before a cremation but a date has not been set.

The ceremony will have regal touches, with an octagonal urn among the items given by the monarchy and court musicians playing drums and flutes during royally-sponsored bathing rites

The ceremony will have regal touches, with an octagonal urn among the items given by the monarchy and court musicians playing drums and flutes during royally-sponsored bathing rites

The squad and staff will be in Thailand for about 36 hours, visiting the temple where Vichai rests

Vichai’s body was flown back to Thailand and taken to Wat Thepsirin on Friday where prominent individuals close to the family wore black for a private gathering ahead of the official ceremony which starts Saturday evening and lasts until November 9

Vichai leaves behind a wife and four children, two sons and two daughters. All five are on the executive board of King Power, which faces an uncertain future.

Leicester fans have been laying flowers and club memorabilia outside the King Power Stadium for the man that made their sporting dreams come true.

Many also saw him as a member of the community known for his acts of generosity, including donating money to a hospital and providing free beer and food for fans during games.

But in Thailand, he left a more divisive legacy in a country strongly polarised by politics.

His rise to become the 5th-richest person in Thailand from starting out with one duty-free shop in Bangkok in 1989, was testament to his ability to ride out political upheaval, George McLeod, a Thailand-based political risk consultant, told MailOnline.

Monks attend a procession with royal soldiers during a funeral for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, late chairman of Leicester City Football Club, in Bangkok

‘The King Power Duty-Free concession is the most lucrative government concession in Southeast Asia,’ said McLeod.

The King Power stores, which sell Leicester shirts along with the usual duty-free goods, at Bangkok’s two international airports have unrivalled access to around 100 million visitors combined.

‘You only get that type of ironclad monopoly through very aggressive political networking and Vichai was at that, and the way that he managed that was by basically backing whoever was in power at the time,’ he said.

A message of condolence from a former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is loathed by the conservative military regime currently in power, was sent shortly after news hit of Srivaddhanaprabha’s death.

In contrast, the current prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha offered a mumbled, incoherent tribute to local media after several days of silence.

Vichai leaves behind a wife and four children, two sons and two daughters. All five are on the executive board of King Power, which faces an uncertain future

The four other crash victims were identified by British police as Nursara Suknamai – an actress and a runner-up in Miss Thailand Universe in 2005 – and Kaveporn Punpare, both members of Vichai’s staff, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz

Members of the Leicester team including coach Claude Puel are due to fly to Thailand to pay their respects after an afternoon away match against Cardiff City Saturday. ‘We all spoke about … wanting to play, it’s what Vichai would’ve wanted and that’s what we are going to do,’ striker Jamie Vardy said, adding that they would ‘honour his name’ with their performance.

His deputy, Prawit Wongsuwan, who attended the wedding of Vichai’s daughter early this year, has remained conspicuously quiet.

‘Vichai was seen as a switch hitter. He had connections on both sides but he wasn’t popular with the elites. In business, he was ruthless: If he has that airport concession it means other powerful businessmen are missing out,’ said McLeod.

Vichai’s body was flown back to Thailand and taken to Wat Thepsirin on Friday where prominent individuals close to the family wore black for a private gathering ahead of the official ceremony which starts Saturday evening and lasts until November 9.

The ceremony will have regal touches, with an octagonal urn among the items given by the monarchy and court musicians playing drums and flutes during royally-sponsored bathing rites.

Buddhist monks will recite prayers from religious texts and afterwards the body will be kept for 100 days before a cremation but a date has not been set.

In the first public reaction from the family, Vichai’s youngest son Aiyawatt – better known by his nickname ‘Top’ (pictured with title winning manager Claudio Ranieri) – said in an Instagram post this week that his father had ‘left me with a legacy to continue and I will do everything I can to carry on his big vision and dreams

In the first public reaction from the family, Vichai’s youngest son Aiyawatt – better known by his nickname ‘Top’ (pictured with title winning manager Claudio Ranieri) – said in an Instagram post this week that his father had ‘left me with a legacy to continue and I will do everything I can to carry on his big vision and dreams

Leicester fans have been laying flowers and club memorabilia outside the King Power Stadium for the man that made their sporting dreams come true. Many also saw him as a member of the community known for his acts of generosity, including donating money to a hospital and providing free beer and food for fans during games

Supporters were at the King Power Stadium ahead of the Foxes’ league match at Cardiff

Leicester fans were given free breakfast in tribute to late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Members of the Leicester team including coach Claude Puel are due to fly to Thailand to pay their respects after an afternoon away match against Cardiff City Saturday

‘We all spoke about … wanting to play, it’s what Vichai would’ve wanted and that’s what we are going to do,’ striker Jamie Vardy told Sky Sports, adding that they would ‘honour his name’ with their performance.

Vardy, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and captain Wes Morgan, are expected to travel along with Puel and senior staff.

In the first public reaction from the family, Vichai’s youngest son Aiyawatt – better known by his nickname ‘Top’ – said in an Instagram post this week that his father had ‘left me with a legacy to continue and I will do everything I can to carry on his big vision and dreams.’

The squad and staff will be in Thailand for about 36 hours, visiting the temple where Vichai rests.

Leicester fans given free breakfast in tribute to their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha ahead of Premier League clash at Cardiff

The Thai businessman died along with four others in a devastating helicopter crash after the Foxes’ 1-1 draw with West Ham last Saturday.

Supporters were at the King Power Stadium ahead of Leicester’s Premier League match at Cardiff later in the day.

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