How two Hollywood actors breathe new life into a Welsh club

Friday, September 9, 2022 at 19:00• Rian Rosendaal • Last Updated: 12:45

Wrexham FC was founded in 1884 during the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom. The town of Wrexham, in North Wales, has been in dire straits in recent decades and nearly undermined the local football club in the fall. The club was on the verge of collapse ten years ago, when fans raised £120,000 in seven hours to save the club in the National League. In 2022, the future of the third oldest club in the world looks brighter. dragons It was bought two years ago by two Hollywood stars as they try to bring the club back to the next level.

Written by Bart Dhannes

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are best known for their starring roles in the Deadpool trilogy and the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia respectively. The two best friends know each other through social media and bought the club before they saw each other in real life. The idea to buy a football club came from Rob. During the first lockdown in 2020, he became addicted to football documentaries like ‘Sunderland Until I Die’ and Tottenham Hotspur’s All or Nothing. However, McElhenney felt these documentaries failed to address the heart of the sport: the fans. This is how the director came up with the idea to buy a club and told the story of the fans.

Tweet embed A private message from @vancityreynoldsrmcelhenney to our players #Shawky # Wembley ? Original sound – Wrexham AFC

Wrexham fans have owned their club since 2011. In 2020, it was decided by vote that the takeover by both parties could go ahead. At least 98.6% of voters approved the purchase. The two actors paid around £2.4 million for the rights to the club. The choice of Wrexham was explained by Humphrey Kerr, McElhenney’s close friend, in an interview with Four for two. “It set a series of criteria including facilities, fan base, history and finances. Wrexham scored the highest with 38 points out of 50. The scoring mechanism also included a column for ‘narration’. They wanted to buy a club with a story in which the acquisition could be used.” So there was no direct relationship with Wrexham. Reynolds explained the selection of The Dragons based on a theory devised by a young fan. “Deadpool is red and so is Wrexham, so the selection was made quickly.”

Reynolds’ wife was not happy at first
Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively are now two of the biggest soccer fans in America. Although she was initially not very excited about her impulse purchase, the Canadian actress said in an interview Sky Sports. “Blake was not happy that I bought a fifth-league team with someone I had never met before. Now she is more excited than me. We watch every game together and she is obsessed with the idea of ​​being promoted.” Reynolds himself had nothing to do with football before the acquisition. “I fell in love with this sport so much that I started to hate it. I only think about football and live from Saturday to Saturday when we play matches. I have a busy schedule but I plan everything around the matches,” said Reynolds. Sky Sports.

The new owners announced their goals for the coming period in a message to the fans. They want to reward fan loyalty with good results, increase brand awareness and protect Wrexham’s football legacy at all costs. In addition, promotion to the fourth class must be achieved, the stadium must be expanded and attendance increased.

The promised upgrade almost became a reality in the first season after the acquisition. Wrexham finished second in the league and qualified for the play-off matches. In the semi-finals they lost 5-4 to Grimsby Town with a goal in the 119th minute. Despite the fact that promotion to the second league has not yet occurred, other goals have been achieved. The stadium, previously leased from the University of Wrexham, was finally purchased in 2021. With the purchase of the “racetrack” not much will change in practice, but according to McElhenney, the symbolic value of the stadium purchase is significant. The number of spectators has also tripled in the past year. Despite the fact that the new owners have already invested two million pounds in the club, it does not stop there. In the coming years, funds should be made available for a new main platform and a completely new training complex.

Click on social media
Another goal that has been achieved is to increase brand awareness. Wrexham is very popular on social media. The club’s TikTok account has over 400,000 followers. By comparison, the account of Nottingham Forest, which plays in the English Premier League, has only 300,000. Wrexham’s Instagram account also has over 160,000 followers from all over the world.

The documentary “Welcome to Wrexham”, directed by McElhenney, premiered last week in the United Kingdom. It is not yet known where and when the documentary can be seen in the Netherlands.

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