What Can Fintech Start Ups Learn From Leicester City FC?

Leicester City Football Club are the English Premier League Champions! The Leicester City story has been described by some commentators as one of the greatest sporting achievements ever. Leicester City’s Premier League triumph has already been well documented and to put it into context the odds at the start of the season were 5000-1 to win the league – you had better odds of Simon Cowell being the next UK Prime Minister! And now that Leicester City have done it, the accolades are flying in – the manager Claudio Ranieri has been hailed a role model for corporate leaders and managers. The team spirit has given football some much needed romance and given millions the inspiration to believe that the impossible is in fact, possible. But in and among all of the romance there are some real lessons for start ups….

1. Don’t let the Past, determine your future

Up to now Claudio Ranieri has never won anything major in England following previous stints at the Premier League. Ranieri was often referred to as “The Tinkerman” because historically we would constantly tinker with team selections, sometimes making bizarre substitutions. Claudio didn’t do that this season at Leicester, and kept a pretty consistent team. Ranieri learnt from his past mistakes, and had the courage to adapt.

2. Have No Fear

To say that Leicester City were minnows in the English Premier League is not under-stating it. But Leicester City were not intimidated by the league they were playing in and the teams they were up against. Consider this:

  • During the 2014-2015 season Leicester City FC spent long periods at the bottom of the Premier League, but managed to save themselves from being relegated by pulling off what many called the “Great Escape” – fast forward 12 months, and now virtually the same team are Premier League Champions!
  • In the summer transfer window, Leicester City spent £26.7 million compared with Manchester City – £153.5 million, Manchester United – £108.1 million, just to put that into context the lowest spenders were Swansea with a total spend of £9.5 millon and Arsenal with £10 million
  • Next there are total squad valuation comparisons: Leicester City £54 million, Tottenham £161 million, Arsenal £251 million and Manchester City £418 million
  • The most dramatic and well documentated difference was the gulf between the Leicester City and Man City predicted starting 11 during their winter fixture – the Leicester Cty eleven cost £21 compared with Manchester City eleven cost £292 million

3. Embrace Technology and Data

It is well documented that the Leicester City team used GPS vests and regular questionnaires which captured data about individual players, their speed, movement across the pitch, their aches and pains, and videos to understand and analyse player performance. With a team focused on speed understanding knowing the pitch density was important – understanding details from the pitch to the players through data allowed the management and support staff to ascertain what worked well and what didnt.

4. Focus on YOUR Goals

Leicester City didn’t perform particularly well in other cup competitions – this proved to be a blessing in disguise. It meant that the team was able to focus, completely focus, on the premier league and were not distracted by other competitions. In addition to this, the team were not distracted by what was going on at other clubs…

5. Analyse, Understand and Make the Most of Your Circumstances

Leicester were well aware of the turmoil happening at other large clubs – such as the sacking of Jose Mourinho from Chelsea, the turbulent time that Louis van Gaal was/is having at Manchester United, Manchester City announcing their current manager Manuel Pellegrini will be replaced at the end of the season by Pep Guardiola and the seasonal fan frustration at Arsenal – and were able to seize the opportunity that it presented them

6. Go About Your Work – Believe in Yourself

Claudio Ranieri often down played talk about winning the Premier League, but all the while believed in the team and what they were doing. From the players on the pitch to the backroom staff – it was a complete team effort to ensure that the players were able to perform at the highest levels at every single game

7. Constantly Set Yourself Realistic Goals

At the beginning of the season the objective was to stay in the Premier League with forty points, then to play in a European cup competition. When those goals were virtually guaranteed, the goal was to play in the European Champions League and in the last few weeks of the season Leicester City believed they could win the English Premier League – at that point, it was theirs to lose

8. Get the Right Funding

Leicester City were purchased for £38 million by a Thai businessman, Vichai Raksriaksorn, in 2010. Vichai founded King Power, a duty-free retail company in 1989 – according to International Business Times it was the construction of Bangkok airport in 2006 and his exclusive rights to sell duty free at the airport that elevated Vichai to super-rich. In short, Vichai had the cash to invest in Leicester. I don’t know too much about the chap, but following Leicester City’s promotion to the Premier League in 2014 Vichai talked about making Leicester City a top 5 club within 3 years. As it turns out Leicester City have won the Premier League within 2 years and according to City AM with less than a third of Vichai’s budget!

9. Recognise and Utilise Individual Strengths within the Team

He was lucky, when Claudio Ranieri arrived at Leicester City a good team of players had already been established. What Claudio did was to recognise each players strengths and adjusted the team around the players and their individual strengths. This allowed each player to excel, and as this happened across the pitch the overall team started to triumph

10. Inspire Your Team

Claudio nurtured an amazing team spirit, with a quiet but reassured confidence, pizza evenings following team clean sheets – yet managed to retain a team focus in some unorthodox ways — most notably the infamous training session bell: “dilly ding, dilly dang”. Ranieri inspired his team of virtually unknown players to perform at the highest levels – Riyad Mahrez won the PFA Player of the Year and Jamie Vardy broke the Premier League goal scoring record with goals in eleven consecutive games

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11. Trust Your Product and Your Team

Many people were doubtful of Ranieri managerial appointment at Leciester City. There were also some hairy moments during the season when commentators thought the good luck had come to an end, when a key player was sent off or when the team was on the receiving end of a bad referee decision – throughout it all Ranieri was super cool. Ranieri absorbed the pressure, remained calm and trusted in his team to continue to deliver.


An amazing team spirit on and off the pitch, a leader that can inspire and an unrelenting passion to achieve the best possible results – these are what dreams are made of.



  • Economist – What do the Foxes Say?
  • Business Matters – Five Business Lessons from the Leicester City Football Club Fairytale
  • Guardian – Europe’s unlikely heroes have lessons for Leicester and Claudio Ranieri
  • Quartz – Future corporate leaders, meet your new favorite role model: Claudio Ranieri
  • Forbes – Lessons From Leicester City: Is Manager Claudio Ranieri A Journeyman Or Genius?
  • The Telegraph – How Claudio Ranieri, pizza and ‘Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong’ put Leicester City on road to glory


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