COUNCILLORS have given their approval for Leicester City Football Club to be awarded the ‘Freedom of the City’ in recognition of the honour it has brought to the city by its sporting achievements.
The accolade is the highest civic honour the council can bestow and recognises the contribution that recipients have made to the City of Leicester.
Councillors at Leicester City Council backed the plans at a special meeting, which took place yesterday (February 23).
At the same meeting they also approved the introduction of a new civic honour – The City of Leicester Award. It was decided that the first recipients of the accolade should be LCFC chairman Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanapraba, and his late father and former chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
The City of Leicester Award will recognise individuals whose outstanding achievements have had a positive and wide-reaching impact on the city, and who have been a source of inspiration to its residents.
Recipients will have contributed to the educational, cultural, civic or economic life of the city, or through their achievements gained the city wider recognition. Unlike the freedom of the city award, this new civic honour is for individuals only and can be awarded posthumously.
Khun Vichai became Chairman of LCFC in 2010, following its takeover by a Thai-led consortium which he led. He made significant investments in the club which saw them return to the Premier League in 2013/14 as the Championship title winners. The club then went on to achieve its historic Premier League title win in 2015/16, despite pre-season odds of 5,000/1.
During his time as chairman, Khun Vichai invested in both the club and the local community, personally donating more than £4 million to different causes. Sadly, on Saturday October 27 2018, he died in a helicopter accident, alongside four others, outside King Power Stadium.
The Foxes Foundation, formed in 2011/12 was renamed The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation in Khun Vichai’s honour, and it continues to provide significant support for local charities.
His son Khun Aiyawatt, vowed to continue his father’s legacy, and in May 2021, the club had its first FA Cup success. This means LCFC has now won every major honour in English football – the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup. Another win followed when the FA Community Shield was secured in August 2021.
The club has also enjoyed success with the women’s team, which won the Women’s Championship in April 2021, sealing promotion to the FA Women’s Super League in the process.
Alongside the work of the foundation, the club makes an invaluable contribution to the city through the Leicester City Football Club Community Trust, where it uses football to inspire individuals to reach their full potential.
Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “There is no doubt that LCFC’s sporting achievements have raised the profile and reputation of our city across the globe in a hugely beneficial way. The club’s commitment to the local community is also very evident. The Honorary Freedom of the City is the highest award the city can give, and this proposal is a fitting way to celebrate their hard work.”
Lord Mayor of Leicester Cllr Deepak Bajaj said: “The City of Leicester Award will acknowledge an individual’s outstanding performance in their given field, which will have resulted in demonstrable benefits to the city and inspired its residents.
“I can think of no more-worthy recipients for this prestigious new honour than Khun Vichai and Khun Aiyawatt.”