Leicester: Back to reality or still living the dream? – BBC News

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Image copyright Houlton Archive/Getty Images/AFP

Ever since the remains of Richard III were first found under a Leicester car park in 2012, the city has enjoyed a feel-good factor that culminated this year with Leicester City completing a “fairytale” Premier League title win.

But with the Foxes now languishing near the foot of the table and one hotelier claiming the impact of Richard III is slowly wearing off, is the journey over?

Or is it a case of what next?

Even the most upbeat of Leicester fans would probably find it difficult to be positive about their Premier League title defence as the stats make for pretty grim reading – played 19, won five, drawn five and lost nine.

To put that in some context, City lost just three times in the league last season.

However, Claudio Ranieri’s side are through to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will meet Sevilla for a place in the quarter finals.

And after that, only the small matter of European giants such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona would stand in the way of European glory…

Image caption The city has welcomed visitors from Porto, Bruges and Copenhagen to a fan zone as part of the Foxes Champions League campaign

Season ticket holder Sam Webster remains quietly confident, but does not think the Foxes can go all the way in Europe.

He said: “We are an unknown entity, and the bigger teams are definitely underestimating us like the big fish did in the Premier League last season.

“Getting to the semis would be remarkable. However, the drastic difference between the Champions League and Premier League form is unacceptable.”

But even if the Foxes are not quite living up to expectations on the pitch, Richard III has helped keep the city buzzing.

Image copyright Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Image caption The remains of Richard III lie in Leicester Cathedral

Amy Gray, head of tourism affairs at VisitBritain, said: “Money can’t buy the publicity – the sort of publicity Leicester has got.

“We saw a 17% increase in international visitors to the East Midlands for April to June.

“What we’ve seen in Leicester is a fantastic heritage story and a fantastic sports story – and we know both are a fantastic draw to international visitors.”

Richard III’s reburial

Image copyright Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • 24 August 2012 – an archaeological dig begins in Leicester, one that will ultimately discover the remains of Richard III
  • 12 September 2012 – a press conference announces the discovery
  • 4 February 2013 – University of Leicester confirms the remains are those of Richard III
  • 19 September 2013 – Leicester Cathedral announces its plans for a tomb and place of honour
  • 22 March 2015 – the remains of Richard III arrive at Leicester Cathedral, after a journey retracing the king’s final steps
  • 26 March 2015 – the service of reinterment is held and and the remains of Richard III are committed to the ground

Source: Leicester Cathedral

Image caption Eloic Montagnier has said he could have sold out his hotel three times over on the weekend the Foxes lifted the trophy against Everton

Eloic Montagnier, general manager of Leicester’s Belmont Hotel, believes interest in other Leicester destinations – such as the National Space Centre after Tim Peake’s expedition – has also contributed to the city’s success.

He said: “We have done over 80% [occupancy] for the last year.

“It was fantastic in November, with 85% occupancy for the month – it was 65% two years ago.

“I think this is a great opportunity to grow the city and I think it will keep going – I don’t see the success dropping off any time soon.

“Football has brought a lot of people in who may never have even considered coming to Leicester.”

Image copyright JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Leicester City players, owners and manager Claudio Ranieri were mobbed by fans after a celebratory meal to celebrate their Premier League success

But others aren’t quite so bullish about the future.

Vito Ferro’s San Carlo restaurant has become something of a tourist hotspot after it held a celebratory meal for the Leicester City players the day after the title was won.

Despite an initial surge in bookings, Mr Ferro believes it will wear off eventually.

“It is too soon to say [whether things will quieten down] because they are in the Champions League,” he said.

“But I would say, yes, things are eventually going to quieten down unless something else happens.”

So, as Leicester looks ahead to 2017, will good things come in threes with Champions League glory for the Foxes?

Or will the city simply have to accept that “two out of three ain’t bad”?

How much was the title win worth?

Image copyright PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption More than 240,000 people lined the streets to watch Leicester City’s Premier League title parade
  • Leicester City’s success in 2015-16 boosted the local economy by 140m
  • The win also helped to support 2,500 jobs
  • The subsequent Champions League campaign is predicted to increase stadium revenues by 4m
  • Depending on performances in Europe, the club could gain up to 96m in prize money
  • The Foxes European adventure is expected to attract up to 10,000 additional international visitors, contributing 8.4m to the region

Source: Ernst and Young

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