Leicester City have confirmed that their Premier League game at Cardiff will go ahead on Saturday, nearly a week after the death in a helicopter tragedy of beloved chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. However the team will travel to south Wales by coach rather than flying by plane as originally planned.
The stricken Midlands club have decided to play the fixture in south Wales after “unanimous” agreement by the players, manager Claude Puel and board members including Srivaddhanaprabha’s son Aiyawatt.
Leicester’s Carabao Cup fourth-round tie against Puel’s former club Southampton, originally scheduled for Tuesday night, was postponed in wake of Saturday evening’s accident but the squad are ready to play this weekend.
Many of the players have already undergone personal sessions with grief counsellors after the death of the man they knew as “The Boss”.
But they returned to light training on Tuesday and it is understood there is a collective determination among the squad to honour Srivaddhanaprabha, following talks in the morning.
The 60-year-old was killed in the helicopter accident on Saturday night, along with four other passengers, and every member of the first-team squad agreed the best way to pay tribute was to play as planned. The decision was agreed with the full backing of Aiyawatt, the club’s vice-chairman. The players also felt that to fly to Cardiff might be deemed insensitive in light of the tragedy.
The club’s statement read: “Leicester City’s Premier League fixture at Cardiff City this Saturday (3 November) will go ahead as scheduled, as the club continues its tributes to its late Chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
“A minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off at the Cardiff City Stadium and players will wear black armbands in Khun Vichai’s honour.”
Hundreds of fans again lined outside the ground on Tuesday, while striker Jamie Vardy and wife Becky also laid a wreath in a personal tribute.
Daniel Amartey, the defender who suffered a suspected broken ankle in the 1-1 draw with West Ham on Saturday, also visited the memorial on crutches after undergoing surgery. He is expected to miss the rest of the season and only learned of Srivaddhanaprabha’s passing on Sunday after coming out of hospital.
Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, who kickstarted the Srivaddhanaprabha era by guiding the club to promotion in 2014, has written his own tribute.
Pearson is currently manager of Belgian club OH-Leuven, who are also owned by Srivaddhanaprabha’s Thai duty free giant King Power.
He wrote: “His quiet yet authoritative aura, presence and personality have had an immeasurable influence on English football.
“On a personal level, a manager could not have wished for a better boss. I have, through both good and difficult times, been afforded an unwavering support which has been a huge motivator and, in personally difficult times, a huge comfort.
“His warmth, humour and generosity have always been extended to my own family, something for which we will all be eternally grateful for. I will miss his guidance and wisdom – and certainly his mischievous sense of humour and singular chuckle!
“Our thoughts, of course, must now be with Khun Vichai’s immediate family, as well as the King Power family, and I’m sure the wider football world will offer some solace for his loved ones. I will miss ‘The Boss’.”