Doha: Newly-crowned English Premier League champions Leicester City provide “extreme motivation” for all lower league football clubs, the Middle Eastern owner of Bristol Rovers said on Wednesday.
Wael Al Qadi, who watched his Rovers team dramatically promoted to the third tier of the English league last weekend, said Leicester’s exploits this season should give hope to everyone outside the traditional big clubs.
“What happened with Leicester, it just gives extreme motivation not only to clubs but for fans, for players,” the Jordanian said.
“It’s fantastic for us in the lower leagues, you think any of your players can become the next Jamie Vardy.”
Vardy, famously, was playing non-league football just four years ago but his rapid rise will likely see him named as a member of England’s European Championship squad to play in France next month.
And even if it may not be possible to emulate Leicester and win the league, their success should spur clubs like Rovers to achieve the “highest level possible”, added Al Qadi.
The Qatar-born businessman took 92 per cent ownership of the English south-western club in February.
In a 15-match run since he took charge, Rovers only lost twice and snatched the final automatic promotion spot to Football League One last Saturday with an injury-time winner.
“It was amazing, really something special,” said Al Qadi, now back in Jordan.
A member of the Jordanian Football Association, Al Qadi has denied reports he is a billionaire or has limitless funds, and says Rovers will not be big spenders next season despite promotion.
“Darrell Clarke [Rovers’ manager] believes in this group of players more than going out and buying three or four players,” he said.
Next season Rovers will play teams such as Coventry, Charlton and Sheffield United, the latter also having Middle Eastern owners, as they are the club of Saudi Prince Abdullah Bin Musaad Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.
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