Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have bought one of the world’s oldest football teams and plan to document their first foray into the sport in a fly-on-the-wall TV show.
- Wrexham — established in 1864 — sits 14th in the National League, one tier lower than England’s four top professional football leagues
- More than 98 per cent of stakeholders in the fan-owned club voted to give control to actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney for $3.42 million
- The team’s heyday was in the 1970s and later the 1990s, when they had FA Cup wins over sides like then-English champions Arsenal
In a pinch-yourself moment for success-starved fans of Welsh club Wrexham, Reynolds and McElhenney completed a $US2.5 million ($3.42 million) takeover of a team that plays in the fifth tier of the English game.
“This is really happening,” Reynolds, a Canadian-born actor best known for starring in the Deadpool movies, said at the end of a short video announcing the purchase of the 156-year-old club.
In a recent call with members of the club’s supporters’ trust, Reynolds and McElhenney described Wrexham as a “sleeping giant” and outlined their vision to make the team a “global force”.
“You may have never heard of Wrexham, the Racecourse Ground or (sponsor) Ifor Williams,” Reynolds said during Monday’s announcement.
Putting on a Welsh accent, he added: “But you will.”
To increase the exposure of a club which is languishing in 14th place in the National League and has been outside English soccer’s four main pro leagues since 2008, the new owners are ready to use Wrexham in a behind-the-scenes TV series similar to those which have documented Manchester City, Tottenham and Sunderland in recent years.
“That’s happened. We’re documenting it,” McElhenney, an American actor and director who was behind the TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, told supporters.
“We should be thinking about Wrexham the way Man U (Manchester United) thinks about Man U. Engage in club, communities. What a great way to do it,” McElhenney said.
Amazon Prime was among the first to reply to Wrexham’s takeover announcement on Twitter, sending its congratulations to the actors.
Wrexham, nicknamed the Red Dragons, has been a fan-owned club since 2011.
The club confirmed the RR McReynolds Company would take 100 per cent control — subject to confirmation by soccer authorities — following a vote among supporters.
The result was clear: 1,809 fans voted in favour and 26 against, with nine abstentions, giving Reynolds and McElhenney 98.6 per cent support.
“The Gang Buys A North Walian Football Club” read a tweet from Wrexham, a club from a town of about 65,000 people located near the north-west English border.
Chris Jones, a member of the supporters’ trust, was on the recent call with Reynolds and McElhenney and said the actors knew all about the history of Wrexham — from the time in the 1970s when there were attendances of 20,000 spectators, to the 1990s when the team had some big wins in the FA Cup, including over then-English champion Arsenal at the Racecourse.
“They wanted a European club with potential, with history, one that was in a false position, but also one that was a huge part of the community,” Jones said.
“So they sent out advisors to find a club that fitted their criteria. And it’s us.”
Jones said the new owners had a British-style sense of humour and were humble in talking about their hopes and dreams for Wrexham, which include improving the stadium and the playing squad, and also bringing in an experienced CEO to run the club.
“This is the absolute dream,” Jones said.
Fans aren’t currently allowed to attend soccer matches in Britain amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Reynolds has said he wants to be at “as many games as I can make”.
“We want to have a pint with the fans,” he said, adding he and McElhenney’s intentions were to be “great ambassadors for the club” and to “introduce the club to the world”.