How Ryan Reynolds & Rob McElhenney Bought a Struggling Welsh Soccer Club & Took Over the World
Only a pair of Hollywood stars could bring a scripted story like this to a small town in Wales desperate for revival. When actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney purchased Wrexham AFC and began production of a television series on Hulu, they didn’t know “Club Owner” would be their greatest roles yet.
In their second season as co-owners, their camera-friendly club defeated Boreham Wood on Saturday (3-1) to earn promotion to the English Football League after 15 seasons in relegation. Season 2 of “Welcome to Wrexham” will have a happy ending. And if you’re not a dedicated viewer of the show, you might have questions about the soccer story that’s sweeping the globe.
Wrexham’s History is Football History
Wrexham AFC was once a soccer powerhouse with some of the most loyal supporters a sports team could imagine. Located in the northern part of Wales, roughly 45 minutes south of Liverpool, Wrexham is a manufacturing town of about 60,000 residents. And while the area has fallen on tough times, their team has kept hope alive.
Wrexham is no ordinary team. It’s the third oldest football club in the world. The team was founded in 1864, just one year after the laws of the game were written and the Football Association was formed. But despite 150-plus years of history, Wrexham AFC hit rock bottom.
With wins few and far between and an economic spiral in the town over the past century, fans and supporters have had to chip in their hard earned money just to keep the team operational. And then two American actors bought the team, and the investment of a lifetime turned into a heartwarming story for sports fans everywhere.
Why Reynolds & McElhenney Went In
You likely know Ryan Reynolds from a number of blockbuster movies, including Deadpool, The Proposal, Red Notice, and much more. McElhenney is famous for his role on the TV series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And it was his idea to purchase Wrexham after the club had fallen on hard times during the pandemic. Enter Reynolds.
“I had TV money, but I needed movie money.” (McElhenney)
McElhenney reached out to Reynolds in an attempt to find sponsors for his purchase of the team. Reynolds didn’t want to sponsor the club, he wanted to buy it with him. They paid approximately $2.2 million. And thus, the pair set out to revitalize a dead-in-the-water football club with more history than any American sports team could fathom. They created a behind-the-scenes documentary, Welcome to Wrexham, and this tiny town of loyal soccer fans is enjoying a wild ride.
“We didn’t know anything about the sport — now we’re obsessed with it.” (Reynolds)
With Saturday’s win, Wrexham (34-8-3) is now heading to the fourth-tier League Two in the English Football League after 15 seasons. The Racecourse Ground (field name) is the oldest international football venue still in use, and it’s beginning to thrive once more.
A Hollywood ending in Season 2, but there’s more to be written in Wrexham.
Photo: Matthew Ashton / Getty Images
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