Leicester City manager Claude Puel has confirmed he is safe following the helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium and described it as a ‘tragedy for the club’.
A helicopter belonging to owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed in a car park on Saturday shortly after taking off from the pitch and erupted into a fireball.
In the ensuing rush to report on the story, it was speculated that Puel was aboard, which led to fears for his safety. However, in a telephone conversation with Jacques Vendroux of Radio France, he confirmed that was not the case.
It’s a tragedy for the club,’ Puel said. ‘I think very strongly about the victims and their families.
‘I wanted to reassure everyone who cares about me, I’m terribly sad but I’m fine.’
Reuters have reported that Srivaddhanaprabha, his daughter, two pilots and a fifth person were leaving the stadium in the aircraft when it began to spin and crashed in the corner of a car park of the King Power Stadium.
Witnesses have said the ‘engine stopped’ in the air, before the Augusta Westland AW-169 aircraft plummeted to the ground at around 8.45pm. The condition of those aboard, including Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, who has four children, it not yet known.
Many of the Leicester players were still inside the stadium following their 1-1 Premier League draw with West Ham. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was seen in tears as he rushed out of the dressing room and watched the aircraft go up in flames.
Leicester have since cancelled their training session on Sunday and hope to postpone their next game, a Carabao Cup tie against Southampton at the King Power on Tuesday.
A Leicester Women’s game against Manchester United Women, due to take place on Sunday, and a reserve match has also been postponed.
Fans were seen gathering around the ground on Sunday morning to lay flowers and tributes to those affected in the crash. Many were reduced to tears as they feared the worst for their beloved chairman.
Srivaddhanaprabha is a very popular figured in the city having spent a huge amount of money in Leicester City as well as the surrounding area since purchasing it in August 2010.
The club famously defied odds of 5,000-1 to clinch the Premier League title in the 2015-16 season and the chairman’s investment in the squad was seen as crucial to that success.
Srivaddhanaprabha gifted each player their own £100,000 BMW i8 as a reward for their unprecedented success.
He has forged strong relationships with many of the players and staff, including the aforementioned Schmeichel.