The Iron Liddy Column

When tragedy strikes it puts the importance of professional football into perspective.

Since the horrific accident at the King Power Stadium on Saturday night I’ve read many comments to that effect in the media and on social media. The truth is though; there is death, disaster and heartbreak globally every day. We are surrounded by it and immune to it to an extent. Sadly “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

Of course the death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and the four people who perished with him is a tragedy, especially for their loved ones. However, I think what really makes us put things into perspective is not the tragedy of the situation but the shock at the fragility of life. When something like this happens to somebody within our local sphere we are forced to reflect on our own mortality and how unexpectedly life can be snatched away from us in the blink of an eye.

This week Hamburg Hammer (HH) clearly found it difficult to know how to approach his article and he was concerned about discussing the ‘triviality’ of the game itself. He was worried that talking about Mark Noble’s red card and the frustration of Leicester’s late equaliser would seem crass and insensitive in the circumstances.

However, I don’t think that Mr Srivaddhanaprabha would have minded us discussing the game at all. He clearly loved football and Leicester City were much more than just an investment to him. I hope that his family can take some small comfort from the fact that his last emotion was happiness and elation as his team scored with only a minute left on the clock. Reflecting on the game itself is to discuss something that was very important to him and there’s nothing disrespectful in that.

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While the world of football reels with shock and Leicester fans are stricken with grief, I think the one positive thing that I can find to say about the tragic loss of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is that it has helped me to put modern football into perspective in a unique and optimistic way.

Ordinarily I would be reflecting on how ugly and ridiculous the professional game has become in commercial terms and just how unimportant it all is in the face of mortality and grief. Except the story of the commercialisation of Leicester City isn’t ugly or ridiculous. The thread running through every news report that’s emerged from this tragedy is how universally loved Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was by Leicester fans and this was because he invested so much more than just money into the club. It’s evident that he was a kind, humble and generous man who, despite being from a vastly different culture, had managed to maintain an old-fashioned family ethos at an English football club while leading them to commercial success. I doubt the words ‘commercial success’ were on his mind or that of any Leicester fan on that wonderful day in May 2016 though; I’m sure that all they felt was the elation of sharing that magical moment with their extended football family. Their story has given us all hope that money and integrity are not mutually exclusive in modern professional football.

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Ironically, while I was typing this piece my finger slipped on the keyboard and I accidently typed Kind Power. I stopped to look at it for a moment before I corrected it and I thought to myself “yes, that’s exactly what Leicester City had.” Thank you Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, your legacy was to bring something beautiful back into the game. May you and those who died with you rest in peace.