Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought one of the world’s oldest soccer teams on Monday and plan to document their first foray into the sport in a fly-on-the-wall TV show.
In a pinch-yourself moment for success-starved fans of Welsh club Wrexham, Reynolds and McElhenney completed a $2.5 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 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, “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 and Tottenham in recent years.
“That’s happened. We’re documenting it,” McElhenney, an American actor and director who was the creator of 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, which has been a fan-owned club since 2011, said the “RR McReynolds Company” will take 100% control – subject to confirmation by soccer authorities – following a vote among supporters in which more than 98% were in favour of the purchase by Reynolds and McElhenney.
“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 northwest 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 told The Associated Press. “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. “We’ve always said we needed people who have hundreds of millions to come and buy the club.
“It has actually happened. It’s ridiculous.”
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 his intention for him and McElhenney to be “great ambassadors for the club” and to “introduce the club to the world.”