Leicester helicopter crash revives memories of Chelsea vice-chairman tragedy

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The crash of the helicopter often used by Leicester City’s owner may bring back chilling memories for Chelsea football fans whose vice-chairman Matthew Harding was killed in 1996.

Last week – October 22 – marked 22 years since Mr Harding died when his helicopter crashed as he travelled back from a League Cup tie at Bolton. Friends and fellow supporters Ray Deane, Tony Burridge, John Bauldie and Mick Goss were also killed.

Mr Harding was a Chelsea fan from childhood and was such a passionate supporter of the club that his arrival on the board in 1994 saw him make millions of pounds available to the building of a new stand and for player recruitment.

A helicopter belonging to Leicester City FC chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed near the club’s King Power Stadium, after The Foxes had just drawn 1-1 with West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Chelsea FC tweeted: “The thoughts of everyone at Chelsea Football Club are with @LCFC and all those affected by this evening’s terrible accident.”

A Chelsea FC statement, marking the anniversary of Mr Harding’s death, said: “His enthusiasm for the team was clear to all and Harding provided financial assistance for player recruitment.

“Tragically, he was denied the opportunity of witnessing the investment coming to fruition just a few months after the accident, when the team won our first major silverware for a generation, the 1997 FA Cup.”

The first new stand at Stamford Bridge in over 20 years was renamed after Mr Harding soon after the tragedy.

Manchester United v Leicester City – Barclays Premier League – Old Trafford
Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Thailand-born Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, a passionate fan, has enjoyed seeing his beloved team’s Premier League triumph.

Leicester started the 2015-16 campaign as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title after almost being relegated in 2014-15.

The Foxes were among the favourites for relegation and only the three promoted sides – Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth – were longer odds for the league title.

Over the years there have been plenty of handouts of free beer, water or cupcakes from Mr Srivaddhanaprabha to fans – usually as part of his birthday celebrations.

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