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Shahid Khan to the rescue?
The way we hear it, the odds are about 90 percent that NFL owners will approve the sale of the Rams' majority ownership to Khan, an Illinois-based self-made billionaire of Pakistani descent and loyal Rams fan who has vowed to keep the team in St. Louis.
Currently standing in the way of a done deal is Stan Kroenke, who had 60 days (beginning Feb. 12) to decide if he would retain his 40 percent ownership of the team — a likely scenario, according to sources close to the scene.
Should Kroenke suddenly decide that he wants to be bought out, however, sources have indicated that Khan, the 55-year-old president of Flex-N-Gate Corp. — an auto-parts manufacturer based in Urbana, Ill., with $2 billion in annual revenue — is prepared to become the 100 percent owner of the team, in which case he reportedly would pay roughly $750 million.
We hear the league's finance committee is currently in the process of evaluating Khan, who was recently embroiled in a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service regarding tax shelters. Khan told the (Champaign, Ill.) News-Gazette in January 2009 that he paid the IRS $68 million in disputed taxes for 1999-2003.
It's also worth noting that Khan would become the first minority owner to take control of a franchise in league history, but sources don't believe that will have any bearing on whether or not league owners ultimately invite Khan into their exclusive men's club.
Barring any hiccups, the sale of a majority interest in the team to Khan will likely be approved at the owners' meetings in Dallas at the end of May — a time frame that would prevent Khan from being directly involved in any offseason football decisions.
What that means is a "business as usual" approach regarding the draft and free agency from GM Billy Devaney, executive VP of football operations/COO Kevin Demoff and head coach Steve Spagnuolo, all of whom no doubt figure to be extremely motivated to prove their worth.
As for Khan, the hope is that, if and when the sale to him is approved, he will quickly begin to connect with local heavyweights, with an eye toward rectifying the Rams' sticky stadium issue.
"By all accounts, he's a straight shooter who comes into his plant every Monday and addresses the rank and file," one team insider said of Khan. "The perception of him locally so far has been pretty good."
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