A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today
Five years after the incredible fairy tale of manager Claudio Ranieri and his Leicester City side winning the Premier League in 2015-16, the Foxes were still among the Premier League elite, picking up a first FA Cup and heading for another European campaign.
Ranieri has long gone, of course, despite a creditable debut campaign in the Champions League, Leicester topping their group but fading in the league following the sale of vital midfielder N’Golo Kanté.
Stability has returned under Brendan Rodgers, Leicester still in the limelight with key members of their title-winning side – but nothing to match the sheer miracle factor of what was achieved with that unbeaten run from Valentine’s Day to May in 2015-16.
Only one defeat in the first 15 games had enabled Ranieri’s Leicester to top the Premier League table. Expected to falter in the new year, the Foxes notched impressive and deserved wins at Spurs and Manchester City to set up a triumphant spring. The title was all but sealed with another spirited team performance to snatch a draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Two days later, the players then gathered at Jamie Vardy’s house to watch Chelsea come back from 2-0 down and hold Spurs to a 2-2 draw and send the title to Leicester.
Before Ranieri arrived, the club had been in disarray, manager Nigel Pearson given the sack despite Leicester’s relegation-saving winning run weeks earlier. His son James, also on Leicester’s books, had been involved in a controversial incident while on a club tour of Thailand.
Ranieri was the latest in a long line of talented managers at the club. Three times League Cup winners, Leicester thrived under Matt Gillies and Martin O’Neill, whose tactical nous pushed the Foxes into the upper reaches of the top flight.
Formed as Leicester Fosse in 1884, the club moved to Filbert Street seven years later. Fosse later collapsed and Leicester City sprang up in their place in 1919.
With goals from Arthur Chandler, the new club gained promotion to the top flight and, in 1929, lost out on the title by one point to Sheffield Wednesday.
After reaching their first FA Cup final in 1949, Leicester twice won the Second Division title thanks to the prolific Arthur Rowley.
His departure coincided with ex-Leicester defender Matt Gillies becoming manager. Starting with Gordon Banks, Gillies brought undiscovered talent to Filbert Street – along with coaching assistant Bert Johnson.
Gillies and Johnson devised a fluid tactic that broke with the strict 2-3-5 structure inherent to the domestic game. With an interchanging half-back line featuring Frank McLintock, Leicester reached two cup finals, in 1961 and 1963.
After a first-half injury to Len Chalmers, a weakened Leicester folded to double-winning Spurs in 1961, while in 1963, the Foxes missed early chances to allow Manchester United to take control.
That spring, Leicester had gone on an 18-game unbeaten run to top the table in mid April, overcoming icy pitches after a severe winter. By the rescheduled cup final they had fallen away to fourth, their double bid foiled.
Gillies’ Leicester at last won silverware, the League Cup, in 1964, but with the departure of McLintock and then Banks, the decade drew to a close with another FA Cup final defeat and relegation.
The 1970s mavericks such as Keith Weller, Frank Worthington and Len Glover lit up Filbert Street but cup runs and creditable league campaigns produced no silverware. With the arrival of Gary Lineker, Leicester had a genuine home-grown star, but the club remained mired in mid-table.
Yo-yoing between divisions stopped with Martin O’Neill, his five-year tenure from 1995 generating two League Cups and four top-ten Premier League finishes.
O’Neill’s Leicester had gained promotion thanks to a dramatic First Division play-off decided on a 120th-minute goal by Steve Claridge against Crystal Palace. A year later, Leicester returned to Wembley for the League Cup final, again decided by Claridge in the replay.
Leicester made a rare return to Europe, losing out to Atlético Madrid, the hurdle in their previous campaign in 1961. With mainstays Neil Lennon, Emile Heskey and Matt Elliott, Leicester made two more League Cup finals, winning one, before O’Neill left for Celtic.
Relegation and a new stadium near Filbert Street caused financial ruin, Leicester rescued by a Lineker-led consortium. A subsequent takeover by US-Serb entrepreneur Milan Mandarić then saw stormy times, a new low of relegation to the third flight followed by a play-off place for the Premier within two seasons.
Motivational boss Nigel Pearson left soon afterwards, returning after Mandarić had sold Leicester to the Thai-led King Power Group. Replacing Sven-Göran Eriksson, Pearson steered Leicester to the play-offs after a memorable last-minute win over Nottingham Forest, sealing promotion a year later by winning the 2014 Championship.
Picking up from an equally incredible late run to avoid relegation in 2014-15, the Foxes under Claudio Ranieri had remained consistent over the winter of 2015-16. Scoring in a record-breaking 11 straight Premier League games, striker Jamie Vardy made a mockery of his recent non-league past while Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez both provided and notched spectacular goals. Ever-present keeper Kasper Schmeichel was also instrumental in a record of only three defeats all season.
5000-1 outsiders at the start of the season, Leicester’s was an improbable victory, celebrated with blind opera singer Andrea Bocelli blasting out Nessun Dorma to a packed crowd silenced into attention by Ranieri. Having partied all week since their title win was confirmed, City still overran Everton in their last home game of the season.
A poor start to the 2016-17 campaign saw Ranieri replaced by Craig Shakespeare in the new year, his former assistant leading Leicester reasonably close to a Champions League semi-final. Their stumbling block again proved to be Atlético Madrid.
Tragically, the billionaire Thai owner who had overseen Leicester’s astonishing success, Vichal Srivaddhanaprabha, was killed in a helicopter crash as he was leaving the pitch of the King Power Stadium in October 2018. His son Aiyawatt took over the running of the club.
With Vardy still prolific and an impressive Harry Maguire at centre-back, Leicester continued to be difficult to beat until another revival under Brendan Rodgers.
Mahrez may have been sold to Manchester City for £60 million but City had a swiftly improving James Maddison and Belgian international Youri Tielemans. In the top three until the spring 2020 shutdown, Leicester were the surprise package of 2019-20, just falling off the pace after the restart.
It was a similar story the following season, tempered by topping their group in the Europa League and a run to the FA Cup final. With 21,000 fans making a welcome racket at Wembley after a year of fake crowd noise, a Tielemans rocket and two superb saves from Schmeichel sank Chelsea and helped Leicester claim the long-awaited trophy for the first time.
The field of dreams – and the stands around it
Opened by Gary Lineker in 2002, the King Power Stadium, formerly Walkers Stadium, replaced nearby Filbert Street.
Playing earlier at Victoria Park and Mill Lane, in 1891 Leicester Fosse moved to Filbert Street, south of town near the river Soar.
Stands were built in the 1920s, rebuilt after the war and made all-seated in the early 1970s. Significant improvements and additions were made 20 years later, not long before the decision was made to build an entirely new stadium rather than expand.
Filbert Street was demolished in 2003, part of the site used for student accommodation, part of it still fallow today.
In the meantime, shortly after the successful O’Neill era, a new all-seater, 32,500-capacity arena was opened along the riverbank. With construction costs of some £37 million, compounded by relegation, the club fell into debt of almost the same amount.
Originally sponsored by local crisp firm Walkers, the stadium took the name of Thai travel retail group King Power a decade later.
The home South Kop Stand is behind the opposite goal to the family-friendly North Stand, where away fans are allocated a corner running over into the Air Asia stand along one sideline, sectors M1-M4. Opposite, the West Stand is nearest the river.
Going to the ground – tips and timings
The King Power Stadium is about a 25min walk from the train station, alongside Waterloo Way opposite the concourse then past the rugby ground to your right as you reach Nelson Mandela Park.
Several buses run from the city centre to Aylestone Road – alight at Freemen’s Common just past the Odeon cinema. From the CM stop on downtown Charles Street by the Ramada encore hotel, Arriva buses 47, 47A, 84, 84A, 85 and 86 call at stop EK on Rutland Street, which also serves bus 87 and First Bus routes 88 and 88A.
From there, it’s a 10min bus journey to Aylestone Road/Freemen’s Common a short walk from the stadium on Raw Dykes Road.
The sat nav code for the King Power Stadium is LE2 7FL. If you get there early enough, there should be parking around Saffron Street and the Freemans Common Business Park (LE2 7SQ) alongside. Another option is to use Leicester’s three-line P&R service. From Enderby P&R (LE19 2AB) by the M1 south of the city, the frequent 203 bus (£3 return, every 15mins) runs to Leicester Royal Infirmary, a 7-8min walk from the stadium.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
Tickets are only distributed over the phone (UK only 0344 815 5000 option 1, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) or online.
They go on general sale 1-3wks before the match. Pricing is divided into two categories. For the West Stand, it’s £26 for a seat in the corner of a Category B game, £30 for Category A, rising to £48/£50 in the centre. Over-65s/under-22s pay £24/£29 in the corners, £30/£44 in the centre. For under-18s, it’s £20/£24 in the corners, £33/£34 in the centre, under-12s £7/£8 and £15, under-10s £5/£6 and £10. The East Stand is slightly cheaper.
Behind each end, it’s £26/£30 in the home end, £24/£29 for over-65s/under-22s, £20/£24 for under-18s, £10 for under-12s and £8 for under-10s. Prices are around the same in the North Stand, only under-10s are admitted free for Category B games. Away fans pay £30, over-65s/under-22s £15 and under-16s £10.
what to buy
Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts
Facing the Holiday Inn Express hotel, the Foxes Fanstore (Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-2pm, match days) stocks souvenir T-shirts celebrating Leicester’s Wembley win of 2021, The Incredible and Romantic Leicester City, the story of the 2015-16 title run through the eyes of lifelong fan Graeme Norris, and a whole range of retro tops, including the green-with-yellow-pinstripes away number from the Gary Lineker era. The first Leicester shirt to sport a sponsor’s name and the running fox logo, it features the name of long-lost brewers Ind Coope. What could be more retro than Ind Coope?
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
In the same building as the Holiday Inn Express hotel by the ground, the Blues Bar & Grill serves American-style burgers, steaks and ribs, with standard beers, while live sport is beamed from multiple TVs. On match days, there’s a basket menu to facilitate swift service, and often an outdoor BBQ is set up. Sensible away fans without colours are welcome. If you’re here on a non-match day, you can take advantage of the lunchtime deals and all-you-can-eat ribs offer on Fridays.
Meanwhile, season-ticket holders crownd into the 1984 Sports Bar, beside the match-day ticket office.
Beyond, bars near here and the former Filbert Street site fill with home fans on match days. This is certainly true of the F Bar tucked away on Walnut Street and the Symphony Rooms on Burnmoor Street, an events-based venue hired out for weddings and open for Leicester supporters on match days.
Off Aylestone Road in a complex of leisure and retail outlets, Local Hero is a grill pub favoured by home fans while behind on Almond Road, The Counting House is the main pub used by away fans, sport-focused with a hearty kitchen.