Leicester hopes are high ahead of life back in top flight
These are exciting times for newly-promoted Leicester City, as they will be playing Premier League football for the first time since the 2003/04 season. Coral already provide special odds for the Foxes, including 6/1 for them to finish in the top 10 next term.
Championship winners Leicester, who broke the 100-point barrier to finish nine ahead of second-place Burnley, will restart life in the top-flight with big ambitions, largely thanks to the backing of billionaire owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Thai businessman Srivaddhanaprabha is confident of his side’s future successes and, while we have all heard it before that a newly promoted side have false ambitions, he has seemingly pledged to bankroll them with his large fortune.
“It will take a huge amount of money, possibly 10 billion Thai Baht (£180m), to get [in the top five]. That doesn’t put us off,” the owner since 2010 said.
“I am asking for three years, and we’ll be there. We won’t take the huge leap to challenge the league’s top five clubs immediately.
“Do we have a chance to beat them? Yes, we have, but I think we need to establish our foothold in the league first and then we think about our next step.”
Leicester have already started business ahead of the new season by offering contracts to five of their current star players. In-demand keeper Kaspar Schmeichel, England cap David Nugent, Lloyd Dyer, Marcin Wasilewski, who are all out of contract this summer, and young forward Tom Hopper all have new deals to consider.
Winger Dyer, however, may be on his way out after talks have reportedly stalled. The 31-year-old has been impressive this season, getting 10 goals and eight assists in 46 games in all competitions, but it seems the Foxes will need to now find a replacement.
Confirmed departures, meanwhile, include Sean St Ledger, Zak Whitbread and Neil Danns. Kevin Phillips is also out of contract as a player, but will join the backroom staff following his retirement.
More worryingly, manager Nigel Pearson has also yet to sign a new deal, but club vice chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha believes the former Hull boss will remain.
Pearson was even recently quoted optimistically as saying: “The important thing is we’re going with a belief that we can achieve. It’s important we continue to improve everything about ourselves. So, we can challenge for the top five. But, of course, one step at the time.”
While a challenge to play in Europe sounds very ambitious, they have qualified three times before, most recently the UEFA Cup in 2000/01 after winning the League Cup the previous season.
Leicester are priced at 200/1 to finish in the top six next term, thus meaning an entrance to continental football once more, while they are odds-on at 2/5 to stay up. Odds of 15/8 say they will go down at the first time of asking, however.