At the start of the season, Leicester City was one of the favourites to face relegation, following their disappointing performance in the 2014-15 season and the departure of charismatic manager Nigel Pearson.
A year later, the scene is the complete opposite as Leicester were crowned Premier League champions for the first time after Tottenham Hotspur were held by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Many football experts have compared Leicester’s campaign to that of Blackburn Rovers in 1995-96 but the biggest difference between the clubs has been the amount of money spent by both. Blackburn broke the British transfer record twice in the same campaign to acquire the striking duo of Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer, which made them one of the biggest spenders that season. On the other hand, Leicester currently have the fourth-lowest payroll in the league (roughly $70 million for this term).
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the club’s Thai owner, was mocked by many football experts when he revealed plans of making Leicester a top-five side in three years.
“I think we need to establish our foothold in the league first and then we think about our next step. It will take a huge amount of money, possibly £180 million to get there. But that doesn’t put us off. I am asking for three years and we’ll be there,” he had said.
But since buying the club in 2012, Leicester’s pre-promotion value has skyrocketed from £39million to more than £100m and considering their form this season, it will surely go through the roof in the near future.
This fairytale run of the Foxes has been no fluke and in a Premier League season overflowing with interesting storylines, Leicester’s rise has certainly been the most intriguing one for experts and fans alike.
At the start of the season, Jose Mourinho said that the so-called minnows of the Premier League would challenge the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. Although it seemed a little far-fetched, the main reason behind his statement was the new TV deal which will allow the Premier League clubs to share £8.3 billion between 2016 and 2019.
The Premier League money being split on a more equal basis than most European leagues will surely narrow the gap between the elite and the bottom placed clubs of the league. As a result, even the medium-sized English clubs will be able to pull away from their European counterparts and they will also have a clear upper hand in the transfer market.
Leicester City, whose turnover last season was £104.4 million, will also be a major beneficiary of the new TV deal as their win will catapult them into the top 15 clubs in Europe next season. This will bring them on par with illustrious clubs such as Roma, Inter and AC Milan and it will also mean that they will be able to protect assets such as Mahrez and Vardy from being lured away.
Leicester’s success has proven that any team can compete with the established powers of the Premier League. It is still early to predict how Leicester City will handle their immense success, but one thing can be said for sure – the Foxes’ 2015-16 campaign will surely become a part of Premier League folklore.