Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Leicester City owner, is understood to have been on board the helicopter which crashed outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday night.
The club, Leicestershire Police and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are yet to confirm whether there are any survivors from the crash, with their enquiries set to continue over the coming days.
Witnesses said the helicopter appeared to spiral out of control shortly after it set off from the King Power Stadium at around 8.30pm on Saturday, an hour after Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United, before crashing outside the ground.
Though the identity of the five people believed to have been on board remains unclear, The Independent understands that Srivaddhanaprabha was one of those involved.
Srivaddhanaprabha, a Thai businessman who founded the King Power duty-free retailer, became the owner of Leicester in 2010 and regularly arrives at and leaves the club’s stadium by helicopter on match-days.
In a statement released on Sunday evening, Leicestershire Police asked for patience and said the AAIB-led investigation is likely to last several days.
“Police, East Midlands Ambulance Service and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service all responded to the incident last night and enquiries continue at the scene today [Sunday], led by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. These enquiries are expected to continue over the coming days.
“As soon as we are able to confirm any further details around the incident, we will do so. In the interim we ask that you are patient, understanding and resist speculating on the detail and the circumstances.”
Thousands of Leicester supporters visited the King Power on Sunday to lay flowers and shirts with messages of thanks to the Srivaddhanaprabha family, who oversaw the club’s historic 2016 Premier League title win.
Ian Dunk, a Leicester fan of 40 years, was one of the many to pay respect. “There are so many owners at football clubs who just seem to be in it for the money,” he told The Independent.
“These were genuine people that care and put so much into Leicester and the community. He was just a deeply loved man and it’s just so sorry. This is the first time I’ve really felt we have owners who love us back.”
Theresa Shearer, another supporter, also feared the worst. She pointed to the Srivaddhanaprabhas’ contribution to the city as well as the club. The family, which owns the King Power duty-free retailer, donated £2million to build a children’s hospital in the city
“They’re not just a name behind something, there’s a face and personality,” she said. “It’s like they say, like a family member really. They’ve done so much, they’re just so kind and giving, they don’t want anything back. It’s just so sad. They’ve got time for everybody and everything Leicester.
“My son worked here for a while, a life-long Leicester fan, he’s now a football coach,” she added. “They give opportunities to people and help them with their dreams.”
Claude Puel, the Leicester manager, told Radio France: “It’s a tragedy for the club. I think very strongly about the victims and their families, and I wanted to reassure everyone who cares about me, I’m terribly sad but I’m fine.”
Meanwhile, Leicester defender Filip Benkovic, on loan at Celtic, meanwhile dedicated his side’s Scottish League Cup 3-0 semi-final win over Hearts to the families of those involved in the accident.
The 21-year-old Croatian, who joined Leicester from Dinamo Zagreb in August before moving north, said: “Last night was really bad for everyone. Nobody expected this would happen. So I want to give this win to the families.”
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