We are just a handful of games into the new season and for Leicester City fans, it’s been the chaotic start they were dreading. A disastrous summer window has been compounded by their dreadful start on the pitch, gaining just one point from their first 18 and sitting rock bottom of the Premier League.
It is no secret that Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers wanted more help from the owners in the transfer market and it has not taken long into the new campaign for him to take aim at his superiors for their lack of support. The club sold some star players too, seeing young prospect Wesley Fofana and the talismanic Kasper Schmeichel out the door. The Northern Irish boss admitted the club were not in a position to spend big in the summer but not even the harshest of critics would’ve expected the poor window they have endured.
It is certainly their toughest stretch since returning to the top flight. Despite the rocky start to the 2022/23 season, it is not all doom and gloom at the East Midlands club. Leicester City Council is set to finally approve KSS’s major development at the club’s King Power Stadium coming 11 months after they submitted planning application.
The plans to increase the stadium’s capacity from 32,000 to 40,000 and build a 20-storey residential building, along with a club shop, arena, hotel, office space, multi storey car park and food outlets have been recommended for approval at Leicester City Council’s planning and development committee. It is the good news the club were in desperate need of but there is still a long way to go before they start lifting trophies and competing for European spots again.
It was not long ago that clubs outside of the top six were immensely envious of the Foxes; a Championship team that against the odds lifted the Premier League trophy, that competed with Europe’s elite, that a few years later lifted the FA Cup, and had the most endearing owners in England’s top flight.
Sixteen months on from the club’s famous day at Wembley and it seems the fairytale story has all but ended with a stark reality arriving in its place. On the pitch the team is devoid of confidence, with a defence that has conceded 16 goals already, five of them in their most recent encounter with Brighton where they threw away a lead twice before falling to a dismal 5-2 defeat.
Whilst the chances are still slim, you can find odds of 2/1 on Leicester to be relegated according to the latest football betting offers.Their drop in form is largely the result of some underwhelming transfer windows which in itself is the consequence of missing out on Champions League revenue when they were in prime position to secure it on two separate occasions.
The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the club has perhaps gone under the radar thanks to recent success but they are under the magnifying glass now and there are not many places left to hide. Fofana’s departure to Nice has been felt throughout the squad; he was their best defender and in his absence the defence has not looked the same. Schmeichel was another presence in the locker room that has been missing but his lofty £140,000 wages needed addressing by the club's owners.
Leicester’s owners have explained that they need to spend wisely after the scale of investment in the new training ground and stadium expansion so as to protect the long-term interests of the club. The result is that the days of selling key players and reinvesting the proceeds are gone for now. The good news is that the club received a hefty £70million Frenchman Fofana, which will help balance the books but the strategy from here on out is clear, save, save, save!
As for the details of the proposed stadium expansion, if Leicester can get back to winning ways on the pitch then the club are set to become one of the premium destinations for aspiring players across Europe. There have been a number of delays along the way that the club along with Leicester City Council have put down to the complexity of the project but they have now turned a corner. The club’s owners want to raise capacity at the stadium by 8,300 seats to the 40,000 mark, and add a 6,000-capacity indoor entertainment arena, a 220-room hotel, a 20-storey residential block, a new flagship club shop, and a multi-storey car park.
The delays, plus the lack of transfer activity at the club amid tighter finances, had brought concerns among fans that the stadium plans may be put on hold, or even scrapped. If given the green light, City’s earliest expected completion date for the new East Stand will be the summer of 2024, a short time frame to complete the work but one which may still be feasible if it starts soon after the decision.
City have already been given permission by the city council for preliminary works around the site, but no work has yet taken place. It is expected that the new East Stand will be built behind the existing structure so as not to affect attendances while the season is ongoing. Then, during the summer months, the current stand will be knocked through, allowing the new one to be connected with the rest of the stadium.
For Foxes fans who want to know a bit more about these plans, they can look at Liverpool’s recent work at Anfield. The new main stand at the Merseyside club is a similar size to the expansion that Leicester have planned; their project took only 21 months to complete and opened in September 2016. Although the two sides have remarkably different targets, it still serves as a shining example of how a club can operate through such a turbulent time without affecting the team’s performance.
The fact is there would be a lot more to be excited about at King Power if the team was performing on the pitch. A new stadium, training ground, passionate fanbase and recent success are all factors that would lure the vast majority of players to the East Midlands, they just need to rediscover some of the grit and determination that encapsulated the Premier League winning side just a few years ago. There is some light at the end of this tunnel and if Rodgers’ side can navigate their way through the calamity they currently find themselves in then there is a bright future ahead for the Foxes.
You can check out where King Power Stadium sits in our ranking of Premier League Stadiums of the 2022/23 campaign.