The story of Wrexham and why they are so popular is a simple answer: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Deadpool. In 2020 actor Robert McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds formed a company called RR McReynolds Company LLC and took ownership of the small club. They document their journey and the club’s success in the Hulu series “Welcome to Wrexham”.
But what is Wrexham and why them?
Wrexham is a small town located Northeast of Wales, a country attached to England and part of the United Kingdom. The story of Wrexham dates back to 1864, making them one of the oldest football clubs in the world. Their home field, the Racecourse Ground, is the oldest international stadium in the world as it broke ground in 1877. Wrexham play in the England football league, a pyramid divided by different levels. The first level is the Premiere League, which is the most prestige level of football in England. What follows the Premiere League is the Championship League, League One, League Two, and the National League. Anything below the National League is semi-professional and amateur level football.
Teams get promoted and demoted from the levels when they finish in the top or the bottom. Wrexham were in League One until 2004, when they were deducted points for financial discrepancies with unpaid taxes. They later demoted to League Two, and in 2008 they were regulated to the National League and haven’t moved since. The higher a team is on the pyramid, the more funding and more awards they receive. Due to the National League’s lack of funding and poor ownership, Wrexham haven’t been able to reach the promotion level.
So why did two Hollywood stars purchase a team like Wrexham?
Robert McElhenney came up with the idea of investing in a football (soccer) team. Growing up in Philadelphia, he was a huge sports fan, especially of the NFL team the Philadelphia Eagles. He sees how much sports teams mean to the city, including his family who grew up attached to the Eagles. The story of Wrexham reminds him if how much his working-class hometown is passionate about their sports. With Wrexham also being a working class town, they are also passionate about their team. One day his writer/good friend Humphrey Ker was watching a Premiere League match, which got Robert interested in the sport.
With learning about the English pyramid of promotion and demotion, Robert thought it would be a good project to try to take a team from the bottom and move them to the top. He asked movie star Ryan Reynolds to join him, due to the money needed to purchase a club. Ryan also grew up in a working-class so he understands and has a special connection with the people of Wrexham.
Did they make any significant changes to Wrexham?
Since taking over the club, Rob and Ryan listened to the voices of the people in the team and fans to see how they can improve the club and work on promoting the team to League Two. They started with repairing the Racecourse ground, as it was in serious need of a new draining system. After that they spent money to get new players and coaching staff. They ended up signing League One star Paul Mullin. Mullin played for Cambridge United and scored 32 goals, winning the top scorer award for the 2020-21 season.
He decided to reject his contract renewal with his club and when approached by Rob and Ryan, he agreed to move down divisions so he could play closer to home. There were many highs and lows during their first year as owners. In their first season, Wrexham saw themselves dropping down the table, losing several games to put them in 11th place in the table. However, they turned the season around and managed to climb up the table, putting themselves in the top three with a chance to advance to the playoffs.
How is Wrexham doing now?
Wrexham are the first fifth division club to be a playable team in FIFA after featuring in both FIFA 22 and 23 under “rest of the world”. ESPN recently streamed their FA qualifying games against the Blyth Spartans. The viewers were surprising to most as both matches averaged 89,000 views, more than Fox Sports’ viewership of the MLS Decision Day which only got about 54,000 views.
Wrexham will move on to the first round of the FA Cup against Oldham Athletic on Nov 5. The story of Wrexham will live on as they are currently 2nd in the National League table, in hopes to finish on top of the table for an automatic promotion to League Two.
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