Leicester City Football Club will have to put off its English Premier League title celebration for at least another day.
The Foxes, on the brink of one of the most extraordinary achievements in sports, played to a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday. A win and the three points that come with it would have given Leicester the title. But the point they earned for a draw ensures that second-place Tottenham must win all three of its remaining games to have a shot at first.
In an ironic twist, the Spurs play Monday night at Chelsea, the league’s defending champion who has had a miserable season and was never in the title race. But the Blues could determine who the next Premier League champion will be. If they were to gain a draw against Tottenham, that would hand Leicester City the title. Leicester City, with two fixtures remaining, plays Everton and Chelsea in its final two games.
The basement of the Legends sports bar on 33rd Street in Manhattan, an appropriately dark, pubby area known as the Football Factory, was packed with Leicester supporters by 9 Sunday morning. Though Manchester United is one of the most heavily supported teams in the world, it was Leicester City that was getting all the love and support Sunday.
Twin brothers Jason and Jordan Becker, founders of the New York Foxes supporters club, led the singing and the cheering, and the joint was rocking from beginning to end. When Manchester United scored first in the eighth minute, the sounds only got louder and when Wes Morgan equalized for Leicester in the 17th, hope sprang eternal. There would be no more scoring, but the supporters left with unbounded optimism, even if tempered by the very nature of a club that has never won the English top tier title in its 132 years.
Shaun Kelly, 48, of Leicester was in New York on holiday and surfed the Internet to find a sports bars to watch the game. There is a still a bit of disbelief that his lifelong team could win the Premier League.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” Kelly said. “I never thought in my lifetime I would see my team winning the Premier League. We go up, we go down, we are elevated and we are relegated. We were never a top-of-the-table team. And here we are.”
The brothers Becker, who have been to Leicester, a city of 330,000 about 100 miles north of London, will be planning more travel in the season to come, starting with Leicester’s friendly against Paris St. Germain this summer in Los Angeles. Then there is the Champions League, which Leicester has qualified for, its first appearance in the top-tier club competition of Europe.
“We’ve already checked out the trip to Los Angeles,” said Jordan, “and I’m sure we will be looking at their Champions League schedule once the draw is made . . . We’ve just been so happy that they were in the Premier League anyway, and everything seems like a huge bonus.”