Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (Thai: วิชัย ศรีวัฒนประภา;[a] born Vichai Raksriaksorn, Thai: วิชัย รักศรีอักษร;[b][c] 4 April 1958 – 27 October 2018) was a Thai billionaire businessman and the founder, owner and chairman of King Power Duty Free. He was also the owner of the Premier League football club, Leicester City from 2010 until his death in a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium in Leicester.
4 April 1958
|Died||27 October 2018 (aged 60)|
|Cause of death||Helicopter crash|
|Other names||Khun Vichai|
|Occupation||Owner & chairman of King Power International Group|
Owner & chairman of Leicester City
Chairman of OH Leuven
|Children||4, including Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha|
Vichai was the founder and CEO of King Power Duty Free, an operator of duty-free shops. In December 2009, King Power received the royal warrant from King Bhumibol of Thailand in a ceremony attended by Vichai. In October 2018, he was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 5th richest man in Thailand, reportedly worth US$4.9 billion.
The first football match Vichai watched in England was the 1997 League Cup Final between Leicester City and Middlesbrough, which may have attracted him to the club. In August 2010, the Asia Football Investments consortium including Vichai and his son Aiyawatt purchased English Football League Championship club Leicester City. He succeeded Milan Mandarić as chairman of the club in February 2011 while continuing as owner, and Aiyawatt became the vice chairman. In July 2011, the club's formerly named Walkers Stadium was renamed the King Power Stadium.
Leicester City went on to win the 2015–16 Premier League title after starting the season as 5000/1 rank outsiders. Shortly before the 2016–17 season, Vichai gifted 19 players a BMW i8—at £100,000 each—as a gift for winning the title.
Vichai was born into a Thai Chinese family. His father, Wiwat Raksriaksorn (Chinese: 徐利明) traces his roots to Zhao'an, Fujian, China. Vichai was married to Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, with whom he had four children: Voramas, Apichet, Aroonroong, and Aiyawatt. In 2012, the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej bestowed the family the new surname of Srivaddhanaprabha, which means "light of progressive glory". He was awarded an honorary doctorate as a Doctor of Laws by the University of Leicester in 2016. As a young man, Vichai studied in Taiwan and the United States.
Vichai believed that Leicester City F.C.'s success or failure was affected by karma, and he therefore endeavored to build Buddhist temples and support Buddhist monks to accumulate good karma. Vichai had a good relationship with the Thai monk Phra Prommangkalachan and his fellow monks, who often blessed the team players, either in England or at the monks' home temple in Thailand, Wat Traimit. The monks flying in to see the players of the team became a common sight. In 2015, Aiyawatt became ordained as a Buddhist monk for a month.
On 27 October 2018, Vichai's AgustaWestland AW169 helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium shortly after taking off from the pitch. Eyewitnesses described seeing the helicopter spinning before crashing and creating a fireball. The next day, it was confirmed that Vichai, along with the other two passengers and the pilots, had died in the crash. Numerous tributes were laid to Vichai outside the King Power Stadium by players along with fans of Leicester City and other football clubs. In accordance with Thai burial customs, Vichai's funeral lasted for eight days, beginning on 3 November.
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According to Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers, chairman of Ham Polo Club, Vichai is the first Asian to receive the honour of this prominent position
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Media related to Vichai Raksriaksorn at Wikimedia Commons