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Battleline: A Tale of Two Teams

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Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 7:00 am

Unless you happen to live in Denver, it’s not very often that you will see two Stan Kroenke sports teams playing in the same city on the same weekend.

Especially when those teams are the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League and Arsenal of the Barclay’s Premier League.

But that’s just what happened earlier this year in London.

Kroenke is an entrepreneur who has a number of sports holdings.

Arsenal, based in the northern part of London (Highbury Square) is a member of the Barclay’s Premier League and currently holds fourth in the league table.

Kroenke has been the majority shareholder in that club since April of 2011.

And Kroenke has been the Rams’ owner since August of 2010.

During the weekend of Oct. 27-28, both teams were in London on the same weekend.

Arsenal defeated BPL relegation candidate QPR (Queens Park Rangers) by a 1-0 scoreline at Emirates Stadium. The Rams lost at Wembley Stadium the next day to the New England Patriots 45-7.

Both teams are very professionally run. I rate their media relations folks among the best in the game. The Rams have taken care of us since they came to St. Louis. The Arsenal FC communications team was outstanding and had no problems in credentialing a reporter/photographer from the United States.

Everything I’ve ever seen or heard about Kroenke as an individual indicates that he’s a shrewd businessman who is a pretty solid person. In other words, he’s a pretty good dude.

Kroenke has solid people in charge of each team. Jeff Fisher and Arséne Wenger are veterans in the coaching/management field and have strong reputations of developing winning teams.

But, both the Rams and Arsenal have supporters who seem to have their doubts about the direction of their teams.

St. Louis Rams fans wonder whether or not the team will stay in town as a stadium agreement looms within the next few seasons. I know the team is trying to get the best deal possible, but it’s been speculated that the team is using the stadium issue as an excuse to bolt town.

In London, there’s no stadium issue. Emirates Stadium opened in July 2006, and is a 60,000 all-seater with 150 executive boxes, a dramatic rise in seating capacity from the club’s previous home, Highbury (located not far away).

Instead, the issue there seems to be an uneasiness in the club’s direction.

While the English are very fond of Americans, they don’t seem to like them owning their soccer (football) teams. The Americans have ranged from the Glazers, who own Manchester United (and are hated by many of the fans) to American groups which have owned Liverpool, Aston Villa, etc.

During that weekend, Kroenke faced a less-than-friendly board meeting at Arsenal, where he told supporters that his goal is to win trophies.

“The reason I am involved in sport is to win,” Kroenke was quoted by the BBC Oct. 26. “It’s what it’s all about. Everything else is a footnote. I can assure you no-one is more ambitious than me.”

Despite holding third in the league table, there has been frustration.

Arsenal lost Dec. 11 in the League Cup to the aptly named Bradford City Bantams, 3-2 on penalties.

Bradford City belongs to League Two, the fourth tier of English soccer behind the Premier League, Championship and League One.

Throughout that game, the Gunners did everything but score until Thomas Vermaelen headed home the tying goal in the 88th minute. However, the home side ended up winning after the teams remained tied through extra time.

The BBC reported Dec. 13 that Lady Bracewell-Smith, a former club director who sold her shares to Kroenke, tweeted,

“Disappointed would be an understatement! [He] shows he cares very little. Why he wanted to be part of AFC I do not know. It seems that the concern of the Gunners fans is the immediate future. Arsenal is used to winning trophies and being in the hunt for the Premier League title under Wenger.

Heading into last weekend, Arsenal sat fifth in the BPL table (standings) behind its rivals, including hated North London rival Tottenham Hotspur.

And the Gunners, once one of the top few English teams, have been a seller of prime talent

Arsenal is rated the fourth most valuable association football club in the world, something which might not justify the fact they’re not keeping talent right now.

Prior to the start of this season, the team sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United and Alex Song to Barcelona. While those sales represented over £38 million, I believe the fans feel the team should be holding onto players like that instead of selling.

During the 2011-12 season, the team did much the same thing with the sales of Cesc Fabergas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri to Manchester City, which netted the team £60 million. The team made £22.33 million in the transfer market that season.

Arsenal enjoys a more stable place in its league table (standings) than the Rams, but since most European leagues are performance based (the bottom finishers in each league get relegated to the next highest league while top finishers in the lower leagues get promoted to replace them), a foreign concept to many Americans, it’s very important that the team continue to win.

Of course, it’s also important for teams here to win as well. Good teams have an easier time filling the seats, getting better television games, having the chance to make additional revenue in the playoffs, gain prestige to sign better players, etc. But finishing higher in the standings isn’t a stay-or-go type of deal.

While there are a lot of differences between the fans (Rams fans don’t sing at games or buy fish and chips or tea and a pie prior to the game), there are many similarities.

Both sets of supporters want what is best for their team. It might not happen this year or next season, but I believe they’ll get it sooner rather than later.


Area Scoreboard

Area Sports Schedule

High School Sports


Friday, Aug. 21

Borgia 55, Owensville 16

Washington 34, St. Clair 12

Parkway West 39, Union 14

De Soto 40, Pacific 14

Park Hills Central 52, Sullivan 14

Hermann 55, Montgomery Co 6

St. James 64, Cuba 26

Warrenton 28, St. Dominic 26

Wright City 20, Trinity 18

Friday, Aug. 28

Borgia 31, Union 19

Sullivan 26, Washington 21

Ozark 24, St. Clair 14

Potosi 27, Pacific 7

Hermann 40, Cuba 14

Blair Oaks 48, Owensville 19

Houston 36, St. James 35

Warrenton 37, Troy 13

Orchard Farm 14, Wright City 12


Friday, Aug. 21

Marquette def. Washington, 25-12, 20-25, 25-20

Saturday, Aug. 22

Pacific at Windsor Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Aug. 25

*Borgia def. Cardinal Ritter, 25-5, 25-6

Washington def. Francis Howell Central, 25-18, 25-21

Union def. Potosi, 25-12, 25-19

Farmington def. Pacific, 25-20, 25-23

New Haven def. Cuba

Thursday, Aug. 27

*Borgia def. Notre Dame 25-14, 27-25

St. Clair def Potosi 17-25, 25-23, 25-22

*Washington def. Ft. Zumwalt South, 25-7, 25-16

Seckman def. Pacific, 25-10, 25-13

Battle def. Union

New Haven def. Belle, 25-8, 25-16

Friday, Aug. 28

Tri-City at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 29

Borgia at Willard Tny    TBA

Monday, Aug. 31

St. Clair at Warrenton    5 p.m.


Saturday, Aug. 22

Sullivan at Lutheran South    10 a.m.

Union Tournament

Union Sports Complex

G1 Union 5, Pacific 1

G2 Washington 10, Wentzville Liberty 0

G3 Farmington 18, St. Clair 0

G4 Park Hills Central 3, Borgia 0

G5 Pacific 10, Wentzville Liberty 6

G6 Borgia 21, St. Clair 0

G7 Washington 6, Union 1

G8 Park Hills Central 6, Farmington 2

Seventh Place — Liberty def. St. Clair

Consolation — Borgia 6, Pacific 2

Third Place — Farmington 6, Union 2

Championship — Park Hills Central 2, Washington 0

New Haven Tournament

New Haven City Park

Postponed due to rain

G1 New Haven vs. St. James, Lions Field, 9 a.m.

G2 Linn vs. Hancock, Bock Field, 9 a.m.

G3 Montgomery Co. vs. Steelville, Lions Field, 11 a.m.

G4 Belle vs. Hermann, Bock Field, 11 a.m.

G5 G1 loser vs. G2 loser, Bock Field, 12:30 p.m.

G6 G1 winner vs. G2 loser, Lions Field, 12:30 p.m.

G7 G3 loser vs. G4 loser, Bock Field, 2 p.m.

G8 G3 winner vs. G4 winner, Lions Field, 2 p.m.

G9 Consolation — G5 winner vs. G7 winner, Bock Field, 3:30 p.m.

G10 Third Place, G6 loser vs. G8 loser, Lions Field, 3:30 p.m.

G11 Seventh Place, G5 loser vs. G7 loser, Bock Field, 5 p.m.

G12 Championship G6 winner vs. G8 winner, Lions Field, 5 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 24

Union 7, Rolla 3  

Cuba 16, New Haven 1  

Tuesday, Aug. 25

*Borgia 4, Notre Dame 3

*Washington 6, Ft. Zumwalt South 0

Warrenton 12, Union 1

Pacific 6, Duchesne 0

Wright City 15, St. Clair 3

New Haven at New Bloomfield    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Borgia 7, Pacific 6

Thursday, Aug. 27

Borgia 15, St. Clair 0

*Ft. Zumwalt North 8, Washington 5

Friday, Aug. 28

Lutheran South at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

Wellsville at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

Washington at Belle Tny    TBA

Sullivan at Rockwood Summit Tny    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 29

Washington at Belle Tny    TBA

Sullivan at Rockwood Summit Tny    TBA


Friday, Aug. 21

*Crosspoint 13, Eagle Ridge Christian 0

Tuesday, Aug. 25

St. Clair 3, Fredericktown 1

Pacific 6, Hillsboro 5 (OT)

Calvary Lutheran at Fulton SA     5 p.m.

Fox 5, Washington 1

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Borgia 5, Union 0  

Sullivan 2, St. Clair 1 (PKs)

Rockwood Summit 3, Washington 0

ECC 4, Central Methodist JV 0

Thursday, Aug. 27

*Borgia 1, St. Mary’s 0

Sullivan 4, Crosspoint 1

De Soto 4, Union 1

Friday, Aug. 28

*Fulton SA at Eagle Ridge    4:30 p.m.

*Crosspoint at Heritage     5 p.m.

Washington at Northwest/Parkway West Inv    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 29

Washington at Northwest/Parkway West Inv (Rain Date)   TBA

Monday, Aug. 31

De Soto at St. Clair    5 p.m.

*STL United at Crosspoint    5 p.m.

Pacific Tny    TBA

Pacific Tournament

Monday, Aug. 31

G1 Eureka vs. Union, 4 p.m.

G2 Pacific vs. Liberty, 5:45 p.m

G3 Windsor vs. Warrenton, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 1

G4 Rolla vs. Seckman, 4 p.m.

G5 G1 loser vs. G2 loser, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

G6 G1 winner vs. G2 winner, 4 p.m.

G7 G3 winner vs. G4 winner, 5:45 p.m.

G8 G3 loser vs. G4 loser, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 3

Consolation — G5 winner vs. G8 winner, 4 p.m.

Third place — G6 loser vs. G7 loser, 5:45 p.m.

Championship — G6 winner vs. G7 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Cross Country

Tuesday, Aug. 25

Borgia at Parkway Central Meet    TBA

Thursday, Aug. 27

Sullivan at Nike Fleet Feet    4 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 28

St. Clair at First Capital Inv    TBA

Saturday, Aug. 29

Washington at Lafayette    9 a.m.

Girls Golf

Monday, Aug. 24

Washington 260, Borgia 277 (Medalist Sydney Parrish, Washington, 44) 

Tuesday, Aug. 25

Troy 195, Washington 204, Borgia 209 (Medalist Bayley Henke, Troy, 41)

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Barat Academy 243, Borgia 219 (Medalist Marcie Brinker, Borgia, 46) 

Thursday, Aug. 27

Washington 193, Borgia 220 (Medalists Emma Jones, Washington and Sydney Unnerstall, Borgia 45)

Boys Swimming

Thursday, Aug. 27

Borgia 113, Washington 71, Ft. Zumwalt East 69

Friday, Aug. 28

Borgia at Ft Zumwalt South

Girls Tennis

Thursday, Aug. 27

Fulton SA at DuBourg    4 p.m.

*League Games