Leicester City’s success shows globalisation strengthens English football.

Leicester City's success shows globalisation strengthens English football.

The Unlikely Triumph of Leicester City: A Story of Underdogs, Loyalty, and National Pride

leicester city

A guest-post from one of my predecessors as Bagehot:


In a world consumed by flashy, mega-rich football clubs, where power and success often lie within the grasp of a select few, a remarkable event unfolded in the English Premier League. Leicester City, a previously unfashionable and underdog team, defied all odds, winning the league and capturing the nation’s imagination. This is a story of unexpected triumph, local loyalty, and the enduring spirit of the beautiful game.

Rise of the Underdogs

Leicester, a club with a modest history and a city known more for its hosiery industry than its football prowess, found itself in the spotlight after the unprecedented discovery of King Richard III’s remains. The fame brought to the city by this archaeological wonder ignited a flame of hope and pride in the hearts of its residents. Fast forward to the crowning of Leicester City as champions of England, and the city’s euphoria reached new heights.

The English Premier League, propelled by colossal television deals, had become a battleground dominated by a handful of financially privileged clubs. The immense wealth flowing into the league had created a disparity in competitiveness, with only Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal winning the league in the past two decades. This concentration of power not only hindered the growth of smaller clubs but also bred discontent among fans of the wealthiest teams, who felt the sport’s local traditions were being eroded by the forces of commercialization.

Leicester’s Journey

Leicester City, on the other hand, had long been an average club struggling to make its mark. Recently bankrupted and facing the threat of relegation, the team endured the loss of their manager and their best player. The remaining players were a motley crew of cast-offs and journeyman professionals. To make matters even more incredible, the team’s star striker, Jamie Vardy, had been playing semi-professionally just four years prior and worked as a medical technician. Meanwhile, the team’s captain, Wes Morgan, began his professional career with weight issues. Against all expectations, this unheralded team rose to the challenge, defying the odds.

Contrasting Leicester City’s shoestring budget of around £25m, Manchester United spent ten times that amount on new players the previous summer. Bookmakers offered preseason odds of 5,000-1 on Leicester winning the league, the same odds as discovering Elvis Presley alive. Yet, Leicester’s success proves that while luck played a part, skill and strategy were equally crucial.

Under the guidance of their charismatic Italian manager, Claudio Ranieri, Leicester’s cast-offs and near-forgotten players transformed into an extraordinary team. Jamie Vardy’s record-breaking streak of scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League matches showcased their talent. Furthermore, Leicester’s success is not solely a result of their own efforts, but also a testament to the increasing levels of wealth and professionalism throughout the league. The owners, who hail from Thailand, may not have splurged on high-priced players, but they invested significantly in coaching, scouting, and training facilities.

Loyalty and Sporting Identity

While concerns about the globalization of football and the erosion of local traditions persist, Leicester’s triumph reflects a different narrative. The club’s tremendous spirit on and off the field is a direct consequence of the unwavering loyalty of their fans. The outpouring of support from the Leicester faithful, even in times of adversity, fuels the team’s resilience. The club’s deep connection with its local community and identity is the very essence that attracts foreign investors to the English Premier League. This dedication guarantees match-day income and provides a solid foundation for brand-building. However, foreign owners must tread carefully to maintain this delicate balance and avoid alienating local fans through exorbitant ticket prices or other changes.

National Pride and the Strength of English Football

Leicester City’s triumph extends beyond the confines of their club and their city. The national euphoria and widespread celebration of their success exemplify the enduring and unifying power of football in England. Football fans across the country rejoiced, transcending their affiliations and divisions. Amidst concerns that globalization could spell trouble for English football, the Leicester fairy tale serves as a reminder that, so far, the sport has grown stronger. The impact of globalization, if managed properly, can fortify the foundations of the game.



Leicester City’s extraordinary achievement is a testament to the indomitable spirit of underdogs, the loyalty of their supporters, and the enduring national pride that football instills in England. In a league dominated by immense wealth and commercialization, Leicester’s underdog story serves as a rallying cry for all those who dare to dream. Their success demonstrates that monetary resources do not guarantee triumph. Rather, it is the perfect blend of skill, strategy, teamwork, and unprecedented support that has propelled the Foxes to greatness. As English football continues to adapt to the challenges of a globalized world, it must strive to preserve the intricate tapestry of local sporting cultures whilst embracing the opportunities for growth and success that lie on the global stage.