With a 3-1 victory over Boreham Wood, Wrexham won the National League and secured promotion to League Two. Paul Mullin led the Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney-owned team back to the Football League after a 15-year hiatus with two goals in the second half. Since being taken over in 2021 by Ryan Reynolds, and Rob McElhenney, this is the first promotion won by Wrexham.
The team will compete in the Football League for the first time since the 2007–08 season during the 2023–24 season.
But what makes this Welsch club that played in the fifth division of the English football league system so unique that it is getting so much attention globally? Let’s dive in.
Wrexham is one of the oldest football teams still in existence and plays in the oldest international stadium in the world. The actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney acquired Wrexham AFC in the most unusual partnership in sports history, and they have plans to turn around the fortunes of the team and the neighborhood. Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds are true film and television elites. Reynolds portrays the Marvel character Deadpool, and McElhenney is the creator and star of the longest-running live-action comedy series in the US, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The two traveled the globe in quest of a sports club to finance. A group with a backstory, a sense of belonging, and room to grow, and Wrexham checked every box.
“This is the third-oldest club on the planet, and we don’t see why it can’t have a global appeal. We want Wrexham to be a global force.” – Ryan Reynolds
However, Wrexham AFC has long been a familiar name for many. With a founding date of 1864, this professional football club is the third-oldest in the world. A group that has a record 23 Welsh Cup victories and eliminated legendary Arsenal FC from the FA Cup in the early 1990s. It’s safe to assume that the majority of these individuals hail from Wrexham or, at the very least, the North Wales region.
In truth, despite the club’s illustrious past and the steadfast support of its devoted following, Wrexham has existed for the majority of its time in relative obscurity. The squad was competing in the second level of the English league system in the 1970s, but since then, it has gradually slipped down the tiers until settling in the fifth division. Here, they’ve put in lengthy, grueling seasons competing with teams like Barnet, Eastleigh, and Aldershot Town for league spots. A far cry from the celebrity-studded Premier League matches.
New ownership, New Era
Shaun Pejic, who played over 200 games for Wrexham over the course of a ten-year career, told the local Wrexham newspaper, The Leader, in 2021, “When I first read social media and heard the allegations, honestly, I thought it was a joke.
His statements encapsulated the overall response to the absurd news claiming that Ryan and Rob had made a takeover offer for the team.
This was not a joke, though. After doing their research, Ryan and Rob recognized the potential of Wrexham AFC, a storied football team with the oldest international sports stadium in the world, which they thought could be revitalized with a little investment.
The Wrexham Supporters Trust, who had owned the club since 2011, unanimously accepted their takeover after a presentation via video connection that included pledges to invest £2 million into the club right away, construct a new training facility, and always defeat Chester, their arch-rivals.
After the takeover was complete in February 2021, Reynolds and McElhenney declared, “It is a special day for the two of us to become the latest stewards in the long and storied history of Wrexham AFC.”
The Reynolds Effect
Since the Hollywood takeover, Wrexham’s reputation has significantly improved. Record-breaking ticket sales, an eye-catching jersey sponsorship arrangement with the worldwide social media site TikTok, and an unexpected appearance in the FIFA video game series (the first team from the fifth division to do so) are just a few of the recent developments. Ryan Reynolds alone has 41 million Instagram followers, so there has been a lot of social media advertising for the squad. Both celebrities have occasionally attended games and have even appeared in an advertisement for a nearby company, Ifor Williams Trailers.
The club’s increased fanfare has been matched by improved play on the pitch, and in the first season following the Hollywood takeover, the team came close to being promoted from the league. The team competed in the FA Trophy competition the same year and advanced to the finals when they were defeated by Bromley 1-0.
The town and neighborhood have experienced Ryan and Rob’s love and respect. They have diligently spread positive, frequently hilarious messages about the club on social media. In response, the people of Wrexham welcomed the new proprietors. On an old coal dump just outside of town, a Hollywood-style WREXHAM sign has appeared.
In tribute to Rob McElhenney’s hometown, the club’s away jersey is the same shade of green as the Philadelphia Eagles.
Results on the pitch will ultimately determine success. Nobody is counting on instantaneous miracles. But a dash of Hollywood flair has given Wrexham a tingle of excitement.
Wrexham believes manifestations are real.