Calls have been made for the Premier League to ban helicopters from football stadia after five people were tragically killed in a crash near Leicester City’s King Power Stadium on Saturday evening.
Leicester confirmed last night that club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was among the five people on board the helicopter, which crashed at around 8.30pm after leaving the King Power Stadium pitch following the club’s 1-1 draw against West Ham United.
The helicopter had just cleared the stadium before it spiralled out of control and crashed near a car park next to the stadium. The four other people on board who lost their lives were Eric Swaffer, Izabela Roza Lechowicz, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare.
Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club in 2010 and was often seen departing the King Power Stadium pitch in his private helicopter after games. The stadium is named after Srivaddhanaprabha’s King Power company.
According to an eyewitness, the pilot of the helicopter prevented an even greater tragedy by steering it away from supporters and staff who were leaving the stadium after the game.
An anonymous “senior footballing figure” told The Telegraph newspaper that he would support more stringent safety rules being introduced at stadia.
A Premier League source also told the newspaper that it is “far too early” to discuss reviewing its safety procedures, adding that it would need to hear the outcome of investigations first.
Dan Cox, a cameraman for Sky Sports News, witnessed the tragedy and said it could have been much worse. “I don’t know how the pilot did it but he seemed to manage to slow down the spinning rotation and it drifted off into the corner part of the car park,” he told Sky.
Cox added: “I heard the helicopter coming out of the stadium, saw it as you do, they are amazing pieces of machinery and then I just carried on walking thinking next time I look up it is going to be overhead. The next thing I just looked up and it was just spinning, static just out of control, just a constant spinning, I have never seen anything like it.”
In a statement issued last night, Leicester said: “The primary thoughts of everyone at the club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on board at this time of unspeakable loss.
“In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the club that is now his legacy.”
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