In November 2020, actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney reached an agreement to buy National League club Wrexham AFC, four tiers below the Premier League. On Saturday, the pair got their Hollywood ending when a 3-1 win over Boreham Wood secured a promotion to the English Football League with only one match left on the 2022-23 schedule.
Fans rushed the field after the final whistle and celebrated the league title, which came 15 years to the day after a loss sealed the club’s relegation to the EFL.
The two celebrities did not pay anything upfront for Welsh-based Wrexham, but instead agreed to invest at least $2.6 million into the club‘s infrastructure. Annual revenues typically ranged from $2 million to $4 million before the purchase, but the club’s profile has soared since then and attendance has doubled to 10,000 fans per game. The team attracted new sponsors such as TikTok, Expedia, Vistaprint and Reynolds’ own Aviation American Gin, which he sold most of his equity in when Diageo paid $610 million for the brand in 2020.
Reynolds and McElhenney have brought fans along for the ride with their Welcome to Wrexham docuseries, which debuted in August 2022 on FX and Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in the UK. Season one culminated with a loss in the National League playoffs that dashed the team’s chances of being promoted at the end of the 2021-22 season.
Season two has its storybook ending with the promotion to the fourth division of English soccer, but another highlight included the team’s run to the fourth round of the FA Cup before a loss to Sheffield United. Wrexham was the lowest level club to make the fourth round.
U.S. fans will get a chance to see Wrexham this summer when it takes part in the inaugural The Soccer Tournament (TST), an international 7-on-7, winner-take-all event taking place in Charlotte, N.C. The prize money is $1 million and other participants include Charlotte FC, Borussia Dortmund, Wolverhamption Wanderers and Club Necaxa.
Wrexham’s home field is the 10,500-seat Racecourse Ground, which opened in 1807 and is the world’s oldest soccer stadium that still holds international matches. The stadium is getting a facelift this summer in a renovation that will bring capacity to more than 15,000 through funding from ownership and the public.
Reynolds is also part of a group that is among the finalists in the bidding for the Ottawa Senators.