Football clubs across the East Midlands have expressed sympathy and solidarity with Leicester City following the helicopter crash at the club’s King Power stadium last night.
Fans in the city have begun laying flowers near the scene of the accident this morning, while police are yet to confirm the identities of anyone involved in the crash.
Putting traditional local sporting rivalries aside, Nottingham Forest tweeted a short statement of support soon after the first news reports began to emerge, saying: “The thoughts of everyone at #NFFC are with all those affected by the helicopter crash at @LCFC this evening.”
Similar thoughts were echoed by Derby County, Chesterfield FC, Notts County, Burton Albion, and Mansfield Town.
Stags chief executive Carolyn Radford said: “We use our helicopter around football stadiums across the UK both piloting and as passengers: this is your worst nightmare.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Leicester City’s owner and the crew.”
Witnesses have described how they saw the helicopter, which belongs to the club’s Thai billionaire owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, plummet to the ground in a car park close to the stadium shortly after taking off from the pitch.
Nathan Doore, 21, from Leicester, who works for a rental car company said: “Basically we were driving just past the stadium we could see the helicopter get to the height of the stadium where it started to struggle and was swaying and turning around.
“It was around 8.40pm when it just fell into the stadium car park, I stopped the car then raced round to see what had happened. It was all over very quickly when we got there was lots of smoke and flame.”
He added: “It was distressing and we were in shock – I think the likelihood of someone surviving that would be very thin and there’s a big chance they did not make it out. We just hope that managed to scramble out the wreckage some how.”
Passenger Oliver Kenny, 21, a software engineer from Leicester, said: “I saw it when some middle aged gentlemen pointing to the sky above the stadium. We could see the helicopter was in difficulty so we just parked and went over.
“When we got round to the car park we could see a wall of flame and smoke 20 feet high. Everyone was running over towards it.”
He added: “Everyone was in a state of shock and I could see that a lot of people were shaken by what happened.
“Thankfully there seemed to have been a game on earlier and the police were already there and people were ushering people away.”