Leicester City notebook: $40m deal fallout, Nottingham Forest raid, contract confirmation

New signing Bobby De Cordova-Reid wearing Leicester City's 24-25 home shirt, sporting new sponsor BC.Game
-Credit: (Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Leicester City will receive $40m (£31.2m) from crypto casino BC.Game for their shirt sponsorship rights – but the fallout from the deal goes on.

While City described their partnership with BC.Game as “lucrative”, they did not announce how much they would earn. But in a press release published on various Bitcoin websites, the online gambling company have said the two-season deal is worth $40m.

The cash involved and the potential to invest in transfers may appease some supporters, but there has been vocal opposition to the deal from fan groups, and now former players too. Ex-City goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who has struggled with a gambling addiction, said he was “very disappointed” by the decision, with City icon Gary Lineker in agreement with his former England team-mate. Fan group Foxes Trust said in a statement that the deal was a “step away from the ‘well-run family club’ reputation”.

READ MORE: Transfers, tactics and Enzo legacy – Steve Cooper's five key City tasks

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It’s yet another thorny issue in what is becoming a troubled summer for City and their relationship with supporters. This week, fan group Union FS released a list of questions they want answered by the club over the £25 charge for a physical season-ticket card.

In what was the first major issue of the summer, the club, in a push to move fans to digital ticketing, said there would be a fee for any season-ticket holder who wanted a physical card, despite many supporters already owning one. The backlash saw the club announce that the £25 charged would all go to charity.

Union FS have now published a list of questions they hope will be answered by the club about when and where the charity payments will be made. But say they have so far been met with “radio silence”.

As well as the season-ticket charge and shirt sponsor, the rise in matchday ticket prices has caused “shock” among supporters groups. The cheapest matchday tickets for Category A and Category B games this coming season are up £9, to £44 and £39 respectively, hikes of more than 25 per cent on the club’s last Premier League campaign.

The culmination of these issues is leaving the fanbase in a state of discontent. That is the opposite of what City need right now and could undermine Steve Cooper’s hopes of leading the club to Premier League survival.

City face a difficult campaign where they are expected to be in the relegation battle, especially if they receive a points deduction. Cooper has successfully guided a team away from the drop before, and one of the strengths of his time at Nottingham Forest was how he galvanised the fanbase to create a home atmosphere that made the City Ground a fortress. At City, the discontent over supporter issues may make that job trickier for Cooper, subsequently denting the club’s survival bid.

Backroom staff confirmed

It’s not just Cooper that the City squad got to meet for the first time this week, it was the new manager’s team of staff too. As expected, Alan Tate is in as assistant manager, having been right-hand man to Cooper at both Swansea and Nottingham Forest. Danny Alcock, goalkeeping coach at the City Ground, links up with Cooper again in the same role. As announced by Norwich, Andrew Hughes has joined as first-team set-piece coach, taking on the responsibility of solving one of the club’s long-standing problems.

Also coming in is another trusted colleague of Cooper’s in Steve Rands, who will be a first-team coach and analyst. He joins from Forest, having also worked with Cooper at Swansea. At both of those clubs, Rands was head of performance analysis, a role he also held at Derby, Manchester City and Scunthorpe prior to moving to Wales.

In that role, Rands analysed each opponent, picking out their strengths and weaknesses before advising Cooper on how best to exploit that and helping to put the plans into practice on the training ground.

Former manager Enzo Maresca and his staff did similar work last season, but there is perhaps more scope for week-to-week changes this term. Maresca was very committed to his philosophy and so only minor tweaks were made each match. A more pragmatic approach may be needed against better opponents in the Premier League.

Thomas contract clarification

The start of pre-season training saw a few of last season’s loaned-out players back at Seagrave for the first time in a while, Daniel Iversen, Boubakary Soumare, and Luke Thomas making their returns. The latter caused a little bit of surprise on social media, mainly because of some incorrect information that has been floating around the internet for a while.

When Thomas signed his last City contract in 2020, the length was not announced. At some point, an end date of 2024 spread across the web, and so a fair few fans thought the left-back was out of contract this summer.

That isn’t the case. It’s understood Thomas’s contract at the King Power Stadium runs to 2026. It’s not that he’s signed another new deal either. That has been the expiry date on his contract for some time.

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