By their own admission, Hollywood actor, Ryan Reynolds and screenwriter, Rob McElhenney, are “two people who have made a career out of never taking ourselves too seriously.”
Yet they are making some serious waves in the world of football with their recent takeover of National league side Wrexham FC. But what drew them to an obscure Welsh football club playing in the English leagues, and what do they think they can bring to the side?
The biggest question on most people’s lips is ‘why Wrexham?’ They are not exactly high flyers. After a sustained period of 87 years in the Football League, Wrexham dropped to the fifth tier in 2008 and has remained there ever since.
And they are hardly a big-money side, with financial pressures leading to a takeover by the fans in 2011, many of whom put up their own homes to secure the future of their club.
They do have a remarkable heritage, however. Established in 1864, they are the third-oldest professional football club in the world. And clearly, their lowly position means that there is huge potential for rapid progress back into the Football League and beyond.
Wrexham will be hoping to emulate their local neighbours, and another long-established club, Tranmere Rovers, who achieved back-to-back promotions out of the National League and League Two to reach the third tier in 2019.
A global force
US football fans may well follow Liverpool or Man United and their online odds at Unibet, but are unlikely to have even heard of Wrexham, let alone included them in their sports betting. Reynolds and McElhenney are looking to change that and make Wrexham into a ‘global force’ with a significant investment, rumoured to be around $2million.
The money will be used to secure the financial future of the club, improve the famous Racecourse Ground and, crucially, add to the playing staff.
The BBC reports that the Hollywood pair have the backing of over 98% of Wrexham’s fan-owners and have pledged to work closely with them to bring success to the club. As part of the deal, they have guaranteed that Wrexham FC will not be relocated, renamed or rebranded, protecting the team’s precious heritage.
Wrexham FC on TV
As the pair step up to the challenge of running a football club, they will be documenting their progress for a TV series. If all goes well, this could be a stirring, rags-to-riches tale of the underdogs fighting their way to the top.
Even if they don’t achieve success on the pitch, it is thought that the series could bring them something near $500,000 per episode from the likes of Netflix, which will more than repay Rob and Ryan’s investment.
However, Wrexham director, Spencer Harris, doesn’t think this is their main motivation for buying the club. “Is it the only reason they are doing it? I don’t believe that… there are easier ways to make a documentary!” he said.
The documentary might not be the only way Wrexham makes the screen with Wrexham as president, Dixie McNeil joking that the pair had offered him a part in a cowboy film to sweeten the deal. If nothing else, the deal is set to become a pub quiz staple as one of the great pieces of obscure football trivia.
The future is bright
$2million may be small change in the Premier League, but down in the fifth tier of English football, it is a life-changing amount of money. If the fund are invested all at once, it should almost guarantee a return to the Football League for the Dragons, and from there anything is possible.
Of course, fame and fortune are a double-edged sword, as Spencer Harris explained: “Every team will want to turn us over now,” he said. “But I know Rob and Ryan are up for that challenge.”