CITY councillors are being asked to back proposals to award the Honorary Freedom of the City to Leicester City Football Club (LCFC).
The accolade is the highest civic honour the council can bestow and recognises the contribution that recipients have made to the City of Leicester.
The council is being asked to grant the freedom of the city to the club in recognition of the honour and distinction brought to Leicester as a result of its sporting achievements, and in appreciation of its commitment to local communities.
The award is governed by legislation and requires the approval of the full council. The proposal will be put to councillors at a special meeting that will take place on 23 February.
Councillors will also be asked to approve the introduction of a new civic honour – The City of Leicester Award. It is proposed 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 27 October 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 proposed new civic award complements the Honoured Citizen award, which has been recognising local people making a difference to their community for around 20 years.
“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, and will be delighted to give the proposal my backing.
Both proposals will be considered when full council meets at City Hall, Charles Street, from 4.50pm on Wednesday 23 February.