Fans of Leicester City Football Club are celebrating today after the underdog side confounded many of the world’s leading soccer experts as well as betting odds of 5,000-to-1 to win its first English Premier League title.
The 132-year-old East Midlands team was only promoted to the top flight two years ago and had been competing in the third-tier of English football as recently as 2009. Leicester City started the 2015/16 season in August as one of the favorites for relegation but an opening day win against opponent Sunderland saw the side go top, which is a position it held for the next two weeks.
Later draws against the likes of Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspurs saw the team managed by 64-year-old Italian Claudio Ranieri slip to third but the “Foxes” soon recovered and were again back at the top of the table by January 11 from where they have remained.
Led by star striker Jamie Vardy, who had begun his career in the semi-professional lower leagues of English football after being released by hometown club Sheffield Wednesday as a kid, and Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, a £320,000 ($467,416) buy from French second division side Le Havre, Leicester City have now become the first first-time winners of England’s top-flight title since Nottingham Forest achieved the feat under manager Brian Clough in 1978. As a result, Leicester City will now join the ranks of Europe’s soccer elites in next season’s UEFA Champions League where they could compete against the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
The Leicestershire team’s success could also see it improve significantly on its £57 million ($83.2 million) wage bill, which is one of the lowest in the English Premier League and less than giants Manchester United paid Real Madrid for the services of Argentinean midfielder Angel Di Maria last season. According to the BBC, coming prize money, UEFA Champions League participation cash and increased match-day revenues from ticket and hospitality sales could amount to as much as £150 million ($219.1 million).
The unlikely title triumph has additionally seen bookmakers hurt to the tune of around £15 million ($21.9 million) with one lucky punter alone keeping the faith to reportedly transform his £2 ($2.92) early season wager into a £10,000 ($14,600) pay-day.