Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

English Soccer Match Pits Missouri's Kroenke against Illinois' Khan

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

English Soccer Match Pits Missouri's Kroenke against Illinois' Khan

Article excerpt

A soccer match kicks off in London this morning.

Happens all the time.

But the visiting team in this English Premier League game is Arsenal, owned by Stan Kroenke of Columbia, Mo.

The home team is Fulham F.C., owned by Shahid Khan of Urbana, Ill.

Call it a St. Louis area derby.

In fact, some people on social media already have.

Today's match marks the first meeting of teams owned by these two U.S. billionaires, who live just 300 miles apart on opposite sides of St. Louis.

Kroenke, who made his fortune in real estate development, grabbed his majority stake in the storied London-based Arsenal team in 2011.

In July, Khan, who owns auto parts maker Flex-N-Gate in Urbana, jumped in with the purchase of Fulham. The west London club has a proud history but with middling results.

Kroenke and Khan join a list of other American owners of English soccer clubs, including Randy Lerner, former owner of the NFL Cleveland Browns, at Aston Villa; and the Glazer family, owners of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Manchester United.

But Kroenke and Khan are the Midwestern ones.

Now, in the second week of a new Premier League season, their teams face off.

But this will not be the last time this happens for teams they own.

Kroenke is perhaps best known on this side of the Atlantic as owner of the NFL Rams. He bought the franchise in 2010. He had been a minority owner with the right of first refusal to buy the team when it went on the selling block. While he was thinking it over, Khan got interested. He came close. But Kroenke decided to buy in.

Khan was not deterred. In 2011, he bought the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars.

That sets up a second St. Louis-area derby, albeit in a different sport, when the Rams and Jaguars play Oct. 6 at the Edward Jones Dome for the first time since both owners took over.

Despite their shared sports interests and penchant for mustaches, the two tycoons have different public personas. Kroenke is sometimes called "Silent Stan" for his reluctance to talk with the media or show much emotion in the owner's box. …

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