Leicester’s unprecedented title triumph “made mugs of all of us”, according to Premier League chief Richard Scudamore.
The 5,000-1 outsiders beat bigger rivals Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea to land their first top-flight title.
“It’s probably the biggest sporting story ever and the biggest sporting achievement ever,” Scudamore said.
“Nobody saw it coming and even when it was halfway through the season nobody said it could be sustained.”
Scudamore, who negotiated next season’s record £5.1bn television rights deal, added in an interview with BBC Sport that “Leicester 2016” would stand as a landmark moment in British sport.
“We don’t know what the future holds because we’ve all become completely hopeless at predicting anything, including the bookmakers and everybody else – because this one nobody saw coming,” he said.
“It’s made mugs of all of us and that is just the most fantastic feeling.
“If the bookmakers had it as a 5,000-1 event, you would imagine you should achieve these type of things once every 5,000 years. It gives us 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of being able to say: ‘Leicester 2016. Just remember Leicester 2016.'”
The Foxes were crowned Premier League champions on Monday, when nearest rivals Tottenham drew 2-2 at Chelsea.
It marked the culmination of an incredible run for the East Midlands club, who were only spared relegation last season thanks to a brilliant sequence of results over their final nine games.
“Of course, you can’t compare it with other stories,” said Scudamore. “You can’t compare it with all Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements, you can’t compare it with the Sergio Aguero moment, you can’t compare it with the Arsenal unbeaten season because they’re different things.
“You’re comparing apples with pears. But in terms of an overall story, as an overall achievement, it is absolutely the best.”
“No matter what else happens we’ve got it to remember, we’ve got it in the record books,” said Scudamore. “Let the statisticians prove that Leicester won the most points, they won the league, they were worthy champions and anybody else can do it.”
‘Leicester 2016’ an opportunity for the Premier League?
Leicester’s triumph will mean English football is an even more successful global product, says Sheffield Hallam football finance expert Rob Wilson.
The triumph against the odds is a “great advert” for England’s top flight, said Wilson.
He added it “creates huge potential to leverage the Premier League even more”.
Manager Claudio Ranieri said the club would “continue to build” next season.
Speaking from Leicester’s training ground, where the players were also gathered following a late-night celebration at striker Jamie Vardy’s house, the Italian was asked if his side could win the league again next year.
“No. Next season we have to fight for 10th position,” said the Italian. “We have to make sure we are safe then we look to something more.
“When I came here the objective was to create a solid foundation and build together,” Ranieri told Sky Sports. “This season is out of our project but our foundations are very solid and we want to do our best.
“We don’t want to sell anybody. If some player doesn’t want to stay with us, I don’t want unhappy people. We are looking to add to the team but with the same mentality. Who comes must know we are working hard.”
Wilson told BBC Radio 5 live: “In August they had absolutely no superstars in that side. This summer is arguably more challenging as they try to hold on to some of those players and renew some of those contracts to maintain this next year.”
Sir Peter Soulsby, the mayor of Leicester, said there had been suggestions to name streets after Ranieri and to build a statue in his honour, but added: “I don’t know what it will be. I do know we’ve got quite a lot of partying ahead of us as a city to the end of the season. And then a big celebration.
“We’ve had media attention across the world already and now that we are champions, I think I’m expecting a little more.”
Cleaners took to the streets of Leicester at 06:00 BST to sweep sweeping up after the revelry, after thousands of people spilled out on to the streets in celebration.
There was even a crowd of people celebrating outside Vardy’s house.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes the club’s “business-like” approach to their Championship campaign paid off.
A Sam Vokes header in a 1-0 win against QPR at Turf Moor on Monday guaranteed the Clarets an immediate return to the top flight with one game to spare.
“We’ve balanced the books and been successful again,” Dyche told BBC Radio Lancashire. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
Burnley reported profits of £30.1m in March, following their 2014-15 season in the Premier League.
They broke their transfer record to sign striker Andre Gray from Brentford in August, having recouped sizeable fees from the departures of Danny Ings to Liverpool, Kieran Trippier to Tottenham and Jason Shackell to Derby.
Dyche said the amount of money spent by other clubs had made the Championship “a different league this year”, adding: “People have been having a real go this season financially, putting money into it.”
‘Give us 48 hours to enjoy it before writing us off’
Asked about the challenge of the Premier League, Dyche told BBC Radio 5 live: “We’ll be written off immediately.
“I asked two years ago (when Burnley were promoted in 2014) for people to give us 24 hours to enjoy it, before they started slaughtering us and telling us we’ve got no chance.
“If they could just be lenient and give us maybe 48 hours this time, that would be nice.”
Burnley, who are unbeaten in 22 league games since a 3-0 defeat by Hull on Boxing Day, will clinch the Championship title with victory in their final game at already-relegated Charlton on Saturday.
Either Brighton or Middlesbrough will be promoted automatically alongside the Clarets – they play each other at the Riverside on Saturday, with a draw good enough for Middlesbrough.
Burnley produced a long undefeated run to seal promotion after an indifferent first half of the campaign, which saw them eight points adrift of the automatic promotion places on Boxing Day.
Former Watford manager Dyche, who masterminded Burnley’s return to the Premier League just 359 days after they left it, said the Championship presented a “different challenge” from when the club last won promotion in 2014.
Dyche added: “The expectation rises from everyone, the money available to the club for its future – all of the things that it brings.
“The mentality of the players has been firm all year. We were questioned heavily around Christmas, but I never blinked.
“I knew what we were about, I knew the group we’d got, I knew the mentality and I knew we could go all the way.
“Last time we were under the radar, it was a fairytale. This one was organised, it was business-like and it was well-fashioned from all involved, especially the players.”
What promotion means to the players
Dyche’s sentiments were shared by striker Gray, who has scored 22 league goals for the Clarets this season.
“It’s crazy, it’s been a hard-fought year and the last five or six games have been very tough,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
“It was a bit nervy as we knew the Brighton result and knew we needed to win. We got over the line in the end.”
Centre-back Ben Mee, who has been an ever-present this season, added: “All the boys have been immense and everyone has contributed to this.
“We’ll enjoy this, but we want to go and win the league now. That is the next step.”
They stayed there for two weeks before consecutive draws against Tottenham and Bournemouth saw them slip to third. That was supposed to be the start of their slide down the table – but it never happened.
In fact, Leicester did not drop below sixth place all season and, after moving to the top again on 11 January courtesy of a 1-0 win at title rivals Tottenham, they would not relinquish that position for the rest of the season.
Their form would enable them to clinch the title with two games to spare. But even if they win their remaining matches, they will have won the league with fewer points than any of the previous five winners.
Their success, of course, has owed much to striker Jamie Vardy, the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year and PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez, who have proved themselves a deadly combination, particularly when it comes to scoring goals.
And setting them up…
It also helped that manager Claudio Ranieri – previously nicknamed ‘The Tinkerman’ for his methods during his time at Chelsea – regularly named the same starting XI. In fact, Leicester used fewer players than any other team.
Can money buy success? Not any more
It is 21 years since any team other than Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United won the top-flight title.
And in an era of ever-increasing television revenue, where the latest deal is worth £5.136bn, it was considered unthinkable that any team could break the dominance of the traditional elite clubs.
The most recent published figures for Premier League wages come from the 2015 Annual Review of Football Finance, published by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. They relate to the 2013-14 season, when Leicester (as well as Watford and Bournemouth) were Championship clubs, but the figures give a sense of the huge disparity in budgets between Leicester and the Premier League’s biggest payers.
Leicester’s wage bill has since risen from £36m to £57m, but that it is still only around a quarter of Manchester United’s from two seasons ago.
Joining Europe’s elite
If logic dictates that Leicester should have had little chance competing with the Premier League’s biggest clubs, what hope do they have when they face the best Europe has to offer in next season’s Champions League?
The Foxes’ statistics are a world away from those of two teams who have already clinched two of Europe’s major titles, Juventus and Paris St-Germain, and another on the brink of securing theirs, Bayern Munich.
Most recent first-time league winners
In winning the Premier League, Leicester became the first first-time winners of England’s top-flight title since Nottingham Forest achieved the feat under Brian Clough in 1978.
Europe’s other major leagues have all had more recent first-time winners, though it is 25 years since a previously title-less team enjoyed success in Italy.
How Leicester’s run-in was the talk of social media
Leicester’s Twitter account has 519,000 followers – that’s around 7m fewer than Arsenal, 2.7m fewer than Manchester City and 900,000 fewer than Tottenham.
But it has been the Foxes who have been the talk of social media during the title run-in, far outstripping their rivals.
They were a team of cast-offs and bargain buys written off before the season had started, led by a manager who had been sacked in five of his previous jobs.
Leicester’s incredible Premier League triumph has been built around £400,000 forward Riyad Mahrez and diminutive midfielder N’Golo Kante – both relative unknowns until this season – and a striker in Jamie Vardy who was still playing non-league football four years ago.
But this squad of freebies, basement buys and unknown imports have shocked the football world.
Along the way they won the hearts of neutral fans, became household names and fully fledged international stars.
These are the stories of the 14 key players from a team that cost less than £30m to assemble, but managed to topple the Premier League’s elite.
Kasper Schmeichel (Goalkeeper)
Schmeichel started his career as a Manchester City trainee. He made his senior debut on loan at Darlington in 2006 and was also loaned to Bury and Falkirk before making his debut for the Blues.
He played just three games for City in the whole of 2008 and was so far down the pecking order in January 2009 his agent enlisted the help of BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan to get him a move, via our BBC transfer deadline day live text commentary.
Schmeichel issued a statement expressing his “great disappointment” when Leeds accepted Leicester’s offer for him in June 2011.
We don’t think he regrets that now…
Danny Simpson (Right-back)
Manchester United academy product Simpson was sent out on loan to Belgian side Royal Antwerp and Sunderland, where he won the Championship title in 2007, plus he had spells at Ipswich Town and Blackburn Rovers.
He eventually made his Premier League and European debut at Old Trafford before he joined Newcastle United in 2010. He helped the Magpies win promotion back to the Premier League and also won promotion via the play-offs after his move to QPR.
The 30-year-old had been persuaded to join the Foxes by then manager Nigel Pearson, who was sacked in June. Fuchs said he was lying on a beach in Antigua when he was told Pearson had been sacked. “I’d spoken to a coach, he’d convinced me to go there, and I will never have one training session with him. It was very weird.”
Fuchs has 46,000 followers on Twitter, whom he entertains with his dressing room insights and games such as Russian egg roulette with team-mate Jamie Vardy.
Wes Morgan (centre-back & captain)
The Jamaica international was released by Notts County in 2000 and signed for Dunkirk FC in the Midland Football Alliance, while enrolling on a course to become an accountant, before Nottingham Forest spotted him.
Leicester signed Morgan for about £1m in January 2012. He had already made 379 appearances for Forest, including 123 in League One.
Morgan owns a chain of tattoo parlours in Leicester, with former youth team-mate Scott Tynan. Their regular clients include team-mates Jeffrey Schlupp and Fuchs.
But Morgan’s talents do not extend to the actual tattooing. He said: “I tried it once on pigskin. It was a terrible effort. I was just trying to draw a smiley face but it looked more like a letter C.”
Robert Huth (centre-back)
Claudio Ranieri first brought Huth to England from Germany in 2001, signing him for Chelsea where he won two Premier League titles.
He moved to Middlesbrough for £6m in 2006 but was relegated to the Championship two years later, before joining Stoke where he was voted player of the year.
Some of the players who have also won three Premier League titles include Dennis Bergkamp, Cristiano Ronaldo, Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Carlos Tevez and Jonny Evans.
Kante made his professional debut in the second tier of French football with Boulogne in 2011. Following relegation he impressed in the third tier the following year and was picked up by Caen in 2013. With them he played all 38 games of the season and missed just one match in the following campaign.
Kante was much smaller than the players around him at youth level and struggled to find a team to take him on, arriving at Boulogne thanks to a connection with the president of Suresnes, the amateur club he played for growing up.
He has been praised for his work rate in midfield, interceptions and tackling – and has been given the nickname “The Rash” by team-mate Danny Drinkwater for his aggressive persistence.
Danny Drinkwater (Midfielder)
Drinkwater was another player who started his career at Manchester United, joining the academy as a nine-year-old. The under-18s reached the FA Youth Cup final in 2007, but lost to Liverpool on penalties.
Drinkwater left the Altrincham College of Arts in Cheshire with nine GCSEs.
The 26-year-old was loaned out to Huddersfield, Cardiff, Watford, Barnsley, but never made his senior debut for United.
He joined Leicester in 2012, helping them win promotion to the Premier League in 2014 and was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year that season.
Marc Albrighton (Winger)
Albrighton had been with Villa since the age of eight, making his competitive debut in the Uefa Cup game at CSKA Moscow on 26 February 2009.
The winger made his first Premier League appearance on 15 August 2009 against Wigan Athletic, a club he would later be loaned out to in 2013.
Albrighton, who joined Leicester in May 2014 after being released by Villa, has represented England at Under-20 and Under-21 level.
Riyad Mahrez (Forward)
The slight but talented forward was born in the tough Parisian suburb of Sarcelles and lost his father, Ahmed, to a heart attack at the age of 15.
He first club was AAS Sarcelles before he moved Quimper in 2009, just over 350 miles from Paris.
Mahrez spent his first six months in their second team before gradually making his way through the ranks. He lived with Mathias Pogba, brother of Juventus star Paul Pogba, who described him as too skinny, messy and said he enjoyed a diet of steak and French fries.
During a four-year spell in Germany he became the leading Japanese goalscorer in the league’s history, adding 27 with Mainz to 10 scored with Stuttgart.
He puts his goalscoring form down to discovering fish and chips while at Leicester.
“I like fish and chips!’ Okazaki said. “I have them sometimes, maybe once every two weeks, then I am happy. Now when I have scored I want some fish and chips, it is better than pizza.”
Jamie Vardy (Striker)
After being arrested for assault, Vardy had to wear an ankle tag when he was with Stocksbridge Park Steels. He was not allowed to be out outdoors after 6pm, and at away matches could only play one hour to get back in time. He was 20 and earning £30 a week at the time.
At Fleetwood he scored 31 goals as the team were promoted to the Football League for the first time.
He joined Leicester in 2012 for a record fee for a non-League player of £1m, rising to £1.5m after impressing Pearson and also former West Brom and current England manager Roy Hodgson.
The 2015-16 season started on a low point for Vardy as he was fined by the club after claims he made a racial slur in a casino.
But he turned things around and in November became the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League matches and signed a new three-year deal in February.
Jeffrey Schlupp (Left-back)
When he was in Year 10 at Oakgrove School his designs for a new garden on the grounds were made into reality. It wasn’t all his own work though – Max Crowcombe, the Oxford United goalkeeper, also had a hand.
Schlupp, who spent three weeks on trial at Manchester United in 2013, has won 14 caps for Ghana.
Leonardo Ulloa (Striker)
The 29-year-old earned a then club-record £8m move to Leicester in 2014 after scoring 26 goals in 58 appearances for Brighton in the Championship.
He has never played international football and turned down the chance to represent Chile, for whom he is eligible through his grandparents.
Andy King (Midfielder)
He is the all-time highest scoring midfielder in the club’s 132-year history.