Leicester City Football Club were welcomed with garlands, a press mob and a swathe of elated fans when they landed in Thailand earlier today – as well as a quiet warning to behave themselves this time.
The team kicked off its tour in Bangkok, where tens of thousands of Thais have adopted the club as their own thanks to its owner, local billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
His King Power duty free business has shot to global fame following the Foxes surprise triumph in the EPL, and it is no surprise that the club is capitalising on the publicity.
However, while fans celebrate and the players deployed their charm offensive – with manager Claudio Ranieri, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and forward Shinji Okazaki offering the traditional pressed-palm ‘wai’ Thai greeting to the masses – the visit is also an attempt to erase the PR disaster that was Leicester’s last trip to Thailand.
Less than 12 months ago the club was embroiled in an outrageous scandal, after three of its players, including the son of then-manager Nigel Pearson, were caught on video racially insulting local women during a hotel orgy.
Pearson was sacked shortly afterwards, allowing Ranieri to enter and make history.
Ahead of this trip, announced last week as a gift to Thai fans for their support, vice chairman Aiyawatt 'Top' Srivaddhanaprabha, Vichai's son, warned the players about being on their best behaviour, despite the temptations of Thailand’s renowned nightlife.
"They are massive now and they want to say thank you to the Thai fans," he said. "The players need privacy as well but I’ve talked to them and they know they need to treat everything well."
The trip has already drawn comments regarding last year’s on social media.
Anyone still think that Leicester City going to Thailand again on their team holiday probably isn't the best idea?— Coral (@Coral) May 16, 2016
Leicester going to Thailand...what could possibly go wrong?— Richard Albery (@richardalbery84) May 18, 2016
The club and players will have two days in Bangkok, visiting temples and the Grand Palace and culminating in an open-top bus parade through the capital.