The British miracle: as a Thai tycoon made a “Lester” the champion of England

The British miracle: as a Thai tycoon made a “Lester” the champion of England


Club for a fan

Vichai of Sarvadharma bought Leicester in 2010 for $39 million — an amount even for a modest transfer fee of one player. As wrote the French sports publication Sofoot.com purchasing the “Lester” was a gift in the first place his son Yavutu. Thus the father wanted to distract him from the casino, fashion shows and other entertainment at their home in Bangkok.

In the 130-year history of the football club from a small town in the East of England were not so many bright victories: several finals of the FA Cup in 1960-ies and a more modest victory in the League Cup in the late 1990s. Directly in front of the deal with Thai businessman Leicester missed the chance to return to the English Premier League, where he played since 2004. The debt of the club was more than £100 million Despite this, the Sarvadharma immediately showed that he had purchased the club in order to achieve serious goals with him: invited to lead Leicester ” ex-England Manager Sven Göran Eriksson and bought back previously sold for debt home stadium for £17 million

The appearance in the Thai billionaire has become a real event for the 300-thousandth of Leicester. The sarvadharma flew to the city by helicopter, brought with them Buddhist monks, those blessed the team before the game. “When I first met Vica, he stood surrounded by a dozen monks, and there was not a single woman, so as not to tempt the monks. It was a complete sur, if you forget that he’s a billionaire, <…> but in real life he’s just a normal guy, or at least as normal as you so seem, given the context,” told International Business Times Alex Hilton, stand-up comedian from Leicester, nine months has worked as the personal assistant to Vica in 2015.

The sarvadharma, like many in Thailand, is a true fan of English football: he’s looking at a few matches in each round and knows all about the players on the field. According to Hilton, the Thai businessman said from the beginning that Leicester will win the Premier League.

Fans of “Lester’s” celebrating the victory
Photo: Leon Neal/AFP

The triumph of the underdogs

At first this talk was just the irony. The invitation of the coach-star Eriksson has not justified itself: in the 2010/11 season, “Leicester” ranked only 10th place in the championship, the second power division of English football. Eriksson was dismissed, and the Sarvadharma continued to invest in the club, increasing spending on buying players and salaries (payments to players increased from £17 million in 2011 to £36.6 million in 2014). But in the Premier League “Leicester” hadn’t managed to get another three seasons. The owner was worried sick over every defeat. However, when the team won, says Hilton, Sarvadharma not stint to celebrate — ordered 400 bottles of wine for his friends, among whom were high-ranking military officials and politicians from Thailand.

In 2014, Leicester finally made their way to the Premier League. But Thai billionaire wasn’t just to play in the elite — he had to win a victory there. “We went up [in the rankings], that was our goal. Now we want as much as possible to stay in the Premier League and to enter the top five clubs in the country. We still have a long way, such indicators can not be achieved overnight. We expect that we will be able to do it in three years. If it takes to spend £180 million, I’m willing to do it,” — said the Sarvadharma in the autumn of the year before. “This forecast is then all met with a smile,” notes The International Business Times. “If you ask, do we believe that the team will be the champion of the Premier League when we bought her, then, hand on heart, we did not even dare to think about it”, — transfers words of the son of a billionaire Yawata The Wall Street Journal.

It was under such ambitious goals at the club ahead of the 2015/16 season on the coaching position was invited by Claudio Ranieri. Italian specialist during his career worked with the best clubs of Italy, Spain and England, but really serious success never achieved. At the time, Roman Abramovich sacked him from Chelsea, after he failed to win the championship. Before the championship of Sarvadharma spent on the acquisition of new players ₤27 million (for the previous four years he spent on transfers ₤50 million).

This is a very modest amount by the standards of English and world football: Roman Abramovich for the first five years of ownership Chelsea have spent on new players ₤360 million And still the phenomenal success of “Lester” in the 2015-16 season, provided the players, who at one time went to the club almost for free: for example, 29-year-old striker Jamie Vardy (up to 25 years who had no previous experience of playing for professional clubs) and the Algerian playmaker Riyad of Mahrez (for him, Leicester paid a total of £750 million). The whole season Leicester had no recessions, only lost three times and at the end of the season, ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal and both clubs from Manchester. All this despite the fact that payroll costs “Lester” is 3-4 times lower than that of the super clubs: according to the portal Totalsportek, ended the season Leicester have spent on salaries of £48,2 million, Chelsea £215,6 million, Manchester United £203 million, Manchester city — £193,8 million

Fans greeted the coach of FC “Leicester” Claudio Ranieri
Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

Win £150 million

Winning the championship will bring a “Lester” to £150 million of direct revenues, estimated by sports marketing company Repucom. This is more than made up the whole revenue of the team for last year of £104 million, a Large part of these additional incomes will have on payments from the Premier League (over £90 million to £71.6 million in the previous season). Repucom also considered to be allocated to the club the payment of UEFA for participating in the Champions League next season, increase attendance and sponsorship revenues. The number of viewers who watch the matches, “Leicester”, grew by 23% in recent years, data from Repucom, which increased income from sponsors of the club.

“Now the club needs to optimize the value of their assets and ensure their profitability,” — praised Bloomberg for the financial prospects of the team, the head of the consulting areas Repucom Spencer Nolan.

Quick start

His fortune Vici earned on free trade — he’s the owner of King Power, to monopolize the trade in goods duty free at Thai airports. On 5 may, Forbes estimated the state of the 59-year-old businessman in a $3.1 billion, he is fourth in the ranking of the richest people in the Asian Kingdom. The name of Sarvadharma (“Light of the increasing glory”) he was granted the king of Thailand Bhumibol in February 2013, for the fact that Vichy, investing in “Leicester”, promoted abroad “Thai spirit”. To this native-born community of Thai Chinese, the oldest and most influential of the Chinese diasporas abroad, knew under the name of Vichy Raksriaksorn.

Wichai started his business with a small shop that sold duty-free goods in Bangkok, in 1989, calling it the King Power — as is often done in Thailand, in honor of the king. Duty free was a joint venture with the Tourism authority of Thailand.

The history of the formation of King Power demonstration for South-East Asia since the boom of the 1990s, where business, power and crime were closely woven. Among the counterparties of the group were respected Hong Kong businessman from prison last Ian albert Sau-Shing, the company — owner of the seedy Hong Kong nightlife and hotels for an hour. The main partner is King Power in mainland China in the mid 1990-ies was also made by a trading company owned by PRC police.

To reach the international level to Vichy helped a business partner from Hong Kong Antares Sanchez, 1984 drove the duty free shops on the border of the British colony and the Chinese province of Guangdong. In 1987 a consortium of Hong Kong Kai Tak International Airport Duty Free Shop Co., which was tied Chen, received an eight-year license to free trade in the airport-Kai tak island, and the following year had the beginning of joint projects Chen and Vica.

The future parent company of the business of Vica and Chen, King Power Duty Free was registered only in 1993, but the next year he received a concession on trade in duty free goods in the old Bangkok international airport don Muang. Prior to this, a duty-free trade were doing a unit of national carrier Thai Airways, punching the idea to give the trade in the hands of a professional. Vichy repeated: “Thai Airways should lift into the air planes, and not to engage in retail sector” (quoted by Forbes).

Vichy has secured good relations with the Tourism authority of Thailand and the friendship of the powers that be. Among his friends was air Marshal Somboon Rahong, which at one time held the post of Deputy Prime Minister, and retired General Pichitr Kullavanijaya, Advisor to the king of Thailand. Both distinguished guests attended the opening ceremony of the duty free shop King Power in Kai Tak.

In the second half of the 90 Vici focused on business development in Thailand, while Chen was in charge of the Hong Kong operations of the group. Parent company King Power entered the American market and until 2003 remained public, being registered on the American stock exchange (AMEX). She led operations in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Cambodia.

In the Hong Kong subsidiary of King Power Duty Free Limited, follows from the statements that have been entered in the American Commission on securities and stock exchanges, Vichy and Chen were leaders and co-owners. But in 2003, they parted ways — now each partner control over their own King Power Group, and if Vichy began to develop business in Thailand, Chen focused on Hong Kong, and operations in Macau and partnership with gasmonopolist in the Chinese market duty free and China Duty Free Group (with the latter in 2004, he formed a joint venture company of the China Power Duty Free Group).

For two years Vichy and its Thai partners bought belonged to Chen’s 11 percent stake for $9.2 million Shortly after conversion into a private company, King Power has decided to curtail foreign operations (work in Cambodia, she turned back in 2002). “We found that we have no sufficient forces for doing business abroad] and if we want to implement [our] project, we had to make some [management] decisions”, — quoted Vica Forbes.

More and Polo

Football is not the only passion Sirivadhanabhakdi billionaire passionate fan of Polo. He owns Metropolitan Polo club VR Polo Club. In 1998 he founded the Thai Polo Association, which in 2004 received the status of national. In 2003 hosted the first tournament for the Cup of the king of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej, home for the Association. It features teams from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Australia, Dubai and China. The Association also sponsors the pan-Asian Polo League.

The sons of Vicia Apichet and Yavitt also actively engaged in Polo and are the captains of the local teams. Thai national team Polo regularly participates in international events such as the Chakravarty Cup, Queens Cup and other.

Friend and enemy of the authorities

In 1997, King Power was on the verge of collapse due to the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis. In the tourism industry of the region began a two-year decline against the background of the impairment of the Thai baht. With the devaluation of the national currency at the King Power have difficulties with paying the accounts of its foreign counterparties. The losses of the company at year-end 1998 increased to $4 million But Vichy did not give up. King Power tied prices in their stores to the US dollar and was daily adjusted based on the exchange rate. “This minimized the effects of currency volatility,” explained Vici.

Over the years, the King Power group has become a monopolist on the market of duty-free trade in almost all over the country: the right of monopoly trade of the company has delegated the Thaksin Shinawatra’s government, which Amnesty International called “the worst violators of human rights”. In 2004, the company Vica won concessions on trade in Donmuang and airports in the main tourist resorts of the Kingdom, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

In 2006, when the Metropolitan opened the new Suvarnabhumi airport, an exclusive concession of VICha spread to this air harbour, capable of receiving 45 million people per year. Other participants in the tender, in particular the largest grocery retailer in the country Central Group, questions to deal. But Wichai denied any concessions from the authorities: “Our offer was higher and we are working in this business for 18 years.” As wrote Forbes, for the license King Power paid per year $73 million plus 15% of sales for goods and services provided by the operator of duty free to passengers. At the airport worked 297 branded stores.

After the overthrow of Shinawatra, the military government began a revision of the previously concluded transactions. In March 2007, the Board of Directors of Airports of Thailand (AoT) under the chairmanship of General Saprang Kalayanamitra the unanimous decision ended the relationship with King Power, citing the fact that Vichy understated, official data on investment in the project, keeping them to less than 1 billion baht (about $30 million at the exchange rate at the time). Thus he avoided the mandatory audit, which was established by the law on public-private partnership for large financial transactions in the projects on government contracts. Moreover, concluded the administration of airports, Vichy exceeded the agreed contract volumes the use of the space. General Saprang then threatened with persecution, the officials of the government of Shinawatra, who approved the deal. In response to the structure, King Power filed lawsuits against AoT compensation for a total amount of 68 billion baht ($2 billion). At the end of 2007 the elections were won by close to former Prime Minister Shinawatra, the Party of people’s power. Shortly thereafter, a new examination conducted by the AoT showed that King Power rules are not violated, and the incident was closed.

The airport as a shopping Mall

Your business Vichy constantly compared with the work of the airport of Dubai, which, he said, was more like a shopping Mall, or a Seoul Incheon airport, where each passenger spent an average of a record $60. By 2005, Vichy has brought this figure in Dongyang to $25, using the services of consulting firms: it became clear that the airline customers are often afraid to go far from your gate, so the growth of the turnover of the duty free shops should be located as close as possible to the landing site. In Bangkok, the company owns three duty free shop — single, King Power Complex, in the city center and two at Suvarnabhumi and Donmuang, and that’s not counting the areas in the resort airports. King Power’s portfolio includes over 1 thousand brands, reporting the group does not disclose.