Is it time for Leicester City to ditch the clappers at the King Power Stadium?
On good days, the clappers at the King Power Stadium can sound like an invading army marching in lockstep over gravel.
On bad ones – and there have been plenty of them of late – they sound more like a bored giant, listlessly popping outsized bubblewrap.
Love ‘em or loathe them – and if you do loathe them, this next line may well make your teeth itch – the clappers are woven into the extraordinary recent history of Leicester City.
Although the club had dabbled with clappers at the ground before, the story begins in earnest back in April 2015, when Nigel Pearson’s malfunctioning Leicester City were adrift at the foot of the Premier League table, without a win in eight games, and nailed on for the drop. The atmosphere, needless to say, was gloomier than a goth’s jumper drawer.
When fans streamed in to the King Power Stadium for the match against West Ham – braced for yet more misery, no doubt – they found a cardboard clapper jammed into each home seat. The game started, the noise levels rose sharply, and a suddenly reanimated City bagged all three points.
Everyone City fan knows what happened next. The team went like the clappers for the rest of the season, pulling off the greatest of great escapes to stay in the Premier League. And everyone with even a passing interest in sport knows what happened the season after that: the 5,000-1 outsiders stunned the sporting world to become champions of England.
And whether it was correlation rather than causation, the dramatic switch in fortunes coincided with the introduction of the clappers. For the club, the clappers had turned into a version of lucky pants. They weren’t going to get rid of them now. Whatever the cost.
The financial cost, that is, not the potential environment one. At the time it was reported that the clapper bill for each home game was £12,000. In the unlikely event the price hasn’t changed in the subsequent seasons – and allowing for the lockdown which kept fans out of the stadiums – a hasty estimate suggests Leicester City have now spent more on clappers than they splashed out for Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy combined.
Maybe that didn’t matter when the clappers seemed to be helping to work a little magic on the team … but the spell appears to have been broken. And while there may be far bigger issues facing the club at the moment – not least the calamitous defence – is it finally time to make a clean break and ditch the things? Leicester City fans James Kendrick and Jayden Whitworth have their say. And you can have yours too in our poll, below.
James Kendrick: ‘What makes Leicester City so special is its uniqueness. There’s no other club like it and that includes the clappers’
Since Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester City in August 2010, no other club in English football has been on the journey the Foxes have. From being promoted back to the Premier League, the Great Escape, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and Community Shield to our opportunities to experience European football … all this was down to Vichai and his son Top.
And I think that this almost unbelievable rise can be symbolised in one object, the clapper. Which other owner in world football would pay to have one put on every seat in the stadium before every home game? The Leicester owners have been clear from the start, they wanted to become a top six Premier League Club and the clapper was one of their ways of getting there.
Without 30,000 people banging away on their clapper every game, motivating the players and pushing them forward would Leicester fans have had all the amazing moments that we have? While this is a question to which we will never know the answer, I’m inclined to believe the answer is no.
What makes Leicester City so special is its uniqueness. There’s no other club like it and that includes the clappers. They make Leicester stand out from the crowd and they help to provide a unique matchday experience that everyone will enjoy.
Yes, they have their downsides and critics, but they help create an atmosphere that gets everyone involved including young children.
The clapper doesn’t prevent fans from singing their normal songs and chants or prevent a natural atmosphere from being created, clappers just help everyone else get involved, pick up the beat of the songs and join in.
Sitting near the family stand in Leicester City’s crucial Europa League home game against Legia Warsaw and seeing people of all ages able to join in around the stadium by clapping along will have been a big boost for the players in their push to win the game and the benefits were seen in the way the team performed.
Used properly, clappers can be a real force for good. They’re not a magic bullet that ensure you win every game, but they encourage the crowd to get involved and back their team for the full 90 minutes and that can only produce more positive results.
There’s still a long way to go on this incredible journey for Leicester City and I’m looking forward to backing them all the way and having a lot more clappers to add to my collection.
Jayden Whitworth: ‘I can’t understand why the club are so hell-bent on keeping them – bin them off’
In an era where Leicester City have got things spot on and have continuously set an example for the rest of the league, the clappers have been a rare occasion when we have perhaps got things slightly wrong.
Now I’m all for a clapper on special occasion (granted they’ve been more frequent over the last few years) whether that be when we are holding our first FA cup aloft; being crowned Premier League Champions or the dizzy heights of that remarkable Champions League campaign back in 16/17. They prove to be great filler for my box of ever-growing Leicester City memorabilia – we all have one, don’t we? But I draw the line there. There is no need for them anymore. They’ve run their course.
If I cast my mind back to when they were introduced at the home match against West Ham, the game that kickstarted the great escape, I remember thinking they were quite a novel, inventive idea. A great way of boosting the atmosphere at the King Power. As seasons past their effect dwindled. They even lost the biweekly clap along to Uptown Funk – something I’m certain all Leicester fans miss, right? They now must be binned off. There is no rhythm to them anymore, they just create a right racket. Come the end of the game, they are just discarded in and around the stadium and the streets of Leicester. Most of all they are having an adverse effect on the atmosphere in the stadium.
What I fail to understand is why the club are so hell-bent on keeping them. If the club are so set on boosting the atmosphere on matchdays, it baffles me as to why time and time again the club were so set on constantly rebuking any notion of introducing safe standing or an organised singing section, one not too dissimilar to the one up at Celtic Park.
I pity the poor sods that every week have to fold them, clamp it together with a rubber band and then stick one on all 30,000 odd seats. Only for the full-time whistle to sound and then have to go and pick them all back up again. In the current climate as well, you’d think they’re a COVID super spreader. The less things for people to get their fingers on the better.