World Football

How did Wrexham transform since Ryan Reynold’s takeover?

Rajarshi Shukla

March 29 2023

The Welsh club is attracting a lot of fans to the stadium.

Two years ago, you would have noticed more fans in Wrexham sporting shirts from Liverpool and Manchester United than from the local team.

But after the Welsh team had an astonishing Hollywood makeover, that is no longer the case.

Deadpool fans and people in the UK and the US were perplexed in November 2020 when actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney made the decision to buy National League club Wrexham AFC.

Growing fanbase and docuseries

North Wales-based Wrexham had been competing in English football’s fifth division for 13 seasons, was managed by its fan’s trust, and didn’t appear to be making any moves to move up the league.

The Red Dragons drew crowds of about 3,000 people, and the season before, when the season was abruptly curtailed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, they had just completed in their lowest-ever league place, 19th on points per game.

And yet, the club is now virtually unrecognisable as Reynolds, well recognised for his role in Deadpool, and McElhenney, best known for creating and starring in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Everyone is now speaking regarding Wrexham after the actors’ FX docuseries, “Welcome to Wrexham,” which follows the couple and the club during their first complete season as owners, was published.

In episode four, as the American and the Canadian are confronted with the fact that there is only one automatic promotion seat available, McElhenney remarks, “This is going to be harder than I imagined.”

Although almost lost out on a return to the Football League last season when they reached the play-off semifinals, the season was by no means a disaster, and Wrexham AFC has undergone a significant transformation.

Sold out stands

It has become fashionable to support Wrexham, who have sold out every game at The Racecourse in front of an attendance of just under 11,000, have more social media followers than most Championship clubs, and are sponsored by TikTok.

Yet before Hollywood took control, the situation was distinctly the reverse.

“Now everyone in Wrexham wears Wrexham shirts on a match day,”

“You don’t see Paris Saint-Germain, you don’t see Liverpool, you don’t see Man United, it’s just Wrexham shirts.”

“I used to get made fun of in school for supporting Wrexham – everyone used to support Liverpool or Man United or Everton in north Wales, and I supported Wrexham and it wasn’t cool. Now it’s actually quite fashionable to support Wrexham.”

The club’s unprecedented prominence extends beyond the world of football, as its devoted followers have now come into the public eye.

Player additions

The docuseries also includes RobRyanRed, who currently has 13.1k followers on Twitter, in addition to The Turf bar owner Wayne Jones and other devoted fans.

Now occupying the same spot in the National League as they did at the same time last year, Phil Parkinson’s team has had a considerably easier time climbing the standings this time.

The Red Dragons have not only hired a seasoned manager with a tonne of promotion and EFL experience in Parkinson, but they have also added top-tier players like former Cambridge United striker Paul Mullin and former AFC Wimbledon standout.

But, Fay believes that despite the board’s desire for promotion this year, fans will be patient with the Hollywood ownership this time around because the team is in a far better position than it was ten years ago when they were subject to point deductions and a winding-up order.

The season still has a long road ahead to go until it’s finished.

Yet given that Wrexham AFC and the Hollywood celebrities’ newfound love may eventually have a happy ending because the Red Dragons are only one point behind National League leaders Notts County and are also on an FA Cup run.

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