5000-1. The Unlikely Rise of Leicester City

In 2013 this happened https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxeDIQZ33VA. The following season Leicester City bounced back and gained promotion to the Premier League. The season after that, relegation back to the championship seemed inevitable, they remained firmly rooted to the bottom of the table with 19 points after 29 games but a remarkable turnaround, which saw them win seven of their nine remaining game and kept them afloat. Then remarkably in the summer their manager, Nigel Pearson, who had guided them to Premier League safety was sacked and the tinkerman as he is affectionately known was brought in as his permanent replacement.

Fast forward to this year and Leicester City moved one step closer to securing their first Premier League title in their 132 year history yesterday as Jamie Vardy, who was playing non-league football for Fleetwood Town until 2012, scored two goals yesterday that kept them at the top of the table, seven points ahead of second placed Tottenham with five games of the season remaining. 5000-1 outsiders at the start of the season they are now odds on favourites to win.

If Leicester were to win the Premier League title (which is by no means a foregone conclusion) this would become the biggest story in Premier League history and arguably one of the greatest achievements in the history of all sports teams. Outsider clubs have won the title before- most notably Blackburn Rovers in 1995 and Nottingham Forest back in 1978 (Watford finished as respectable runners up to Liverpool in 1983) yet this was before the era of the Premier League, one in which the football elite, most notably the big five clubs have been able to leverage their considerable financial muscle.

Back in the late ninety’s and early noughties the Premier League title would usually be a two horse race decided between Manchester United and either Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool, the top four was set in stone.

These teams additional financial clout was compounded with the advent of the Champions League. This has provided clubs that finish within the top four with additional money; over £1bn is divided amongst each of the 32 qualifying teams, an additional £10m is provided as prize money to each team before a ball is even kicked. This has helped to consolidate the status quo for top clubs. Teams finishing in the top four received more money, bought better players and continued to outperform the clubs below them. This is not to mention the additional advantage of being able to attract some of the best players in the world who want to play in Europe’s major competition.

Leicester City have none of this. The total cost of their title winning squad is £50.6m, less than a third of a duplex penthouse at One Hyde Park and just shy of the cost of Fernando Torres transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea which turned out to be an absolute flop. The clubs wage bill is £48.2m.

Compare this to the respective cost and wage bills of other major clubs, those of Manchester United who are languishing in fifth place are £203m and £400m respectively. Chelsea will finish in a mid-table position. Their wage bill is £215m and their squad cost £292m. Third placed Arsenal, who are 13 points behind the league leaders have a wage bill of £192m and squad cost of £252m and fourth placed Manchester City’s squad cost a remarkable £418m to assemble, over eight times that of Leicester City.

This then begs the question as to what Leicester Citys success is attributable to. Everyone has their own opinion on this. Mine is that they are hungrier, more resolute and more organsied than any of the larger teams. This is not to take anything away from some of the individual players. Kante, Mahrez & Vardy are immensely talented and have been a revelation to watch this season. The other reason is that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, they know that this season they can become immortalised in the history of football and inspire a generation to beleive that anything is possible. I for one hope they do it.