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Ryan Reynolds' Wrexham One Step Closer To Premier League Fantasy After Securing Promotion From National League
Famous owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney celebrated the monumental win after Wrexham trounced Boreham Wood 3-1 Saturday.
Who said Hollywood magic isn't real?
Wrexham AFC — the small Welsh football club co-owned by "Deadpool" actor Ryan Reynolds and "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" co-creator Rob McElhenney — has defied all the odds to earn promotion to the English Football League 2 from the National League for the first time in 15 years.
RELATED: Wrexham To The Premier League? Ryan Reynolds Sets 10-Year Goal After Riveting FA Cup Performance
The dynamic duo — Reynolds, who plays the “Merc with a Mouth,” and McElhenney, who plays the outlandish Mac on FX Network’s long-running comedy — originally bought the team in 2020 for around $2.5 million, promising to transform it into a high-caliber football club. Now, by the looks of it, they're well on their way.
Why did Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buy Wrexham?
As avid footy fans with deep pockets, why not? The lovers of the world’s most beautiful game couldn’t pass up the opportunity in November 2020, which corresponded with the pals producing a documentary for Disney+ on the club, its players and its fans. The purchase seems even more brilliant now as Wrexham was a non-league club at the time.
While $2.5 million is still a substantial amount of coin for us non-celebrities, for comparison, had the pair of actors wanted to splurge and go for a team higher up on the totem pole, a League 2 team could easily fetch a price of two to three times that amount, and a Premier League team might require billions.
What role did British comedy writer Humphrey Ker have in Ryan Reynolds' and Rob McElhenney's choice to buy Wrexham?
To say the least, quite a big one. Humphrey Ker worked on "Mythic Quest" with McElhenney, and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, McElhenney was keen to dive into new pursuits to pass the time. Considering the "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" co-creator and star always mocked Ker for his emotional obsession of soccer, Ker told McElhenney to watch the Netflix series "Sunderland ‘Til I Die" so he could understand just how moving English football can be for a fan. Though McElhenney wasn’t immediately hooked, he persisted with the show once his wife, co-star and industry partner Kailin Olson went out of town. After devouring the first two seasons, McElhenny took the bait, telling Ker he wanted to purchase a team and do his own documentary about it.
As the Independent reports, Ker perused the computer game "Football Manager" to help brainstorm a shortlist of potential clubs McElhenney could buy. Wrexham stood out because the club had retained an extremely loyal and fervent fanbase that consistently showed up to National League games in droves, and the team was the only club for miles in an area that didn’t have a club in any of the higher echelons of English football. Despite McElhenney catching the footy bug and the weight of his own star power, he still required more if he was going to make a real go at owning a team. At the time, McElhenney revealed, “I had TV money, but I needed movie money.” Enter Ryan Reynolds.
The two hadn’t met in person before, but Reynolds had reached out to McElhenney directly to praise his favorite scene in "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Once the two laid eyes on Racecourse Ground, there was no turning back. They hired former English Premier League manager Shaun Harvey to manage the squad, skyrocketed the club’s revenue by making TikTok the sponsor and the pair went on a PR blitz, appearing on multiple talk shows like "The Late Late Show with James Corden." In just a few short years, they’ve crafted a story perfect for Hollywood, and now the two friends can even say the name of the Welsh town’s name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Go ahead, give it a try ...
What are the star owners and others saying about the historic promotion?
Thousands of die-hard fans were on site at Racecourse Ground watching the Red Dragons fulfill their dream of promotion, including Reynolds’ and McElhenney’s other celebrity BFF, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" star Paul Rudd. The "Knocked Up" funny man filmed the duo sharing a long hug as tears flowed and fans stormed the pitch. Reynolds was overcome with joy when he shared Rudd’s video on Twitter.
“Rob and I kinda blacked out during this moment, but somehow we’ll never forget it,” wrote Reynolds after watching Wrexham’s spectacular victory.
In case you were wondering what Hannibal Lecter thought of the occasion, Wales native and Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins chimed in on the platform to congratulate Reynolds, calling him an “honorary Welsh boyo,” while former England player Gary Lineker congratulated the Red Dragons for their achievement.
“I fancy the next series might be a decent watch,” wrote Lineker in his response, referencing the "Welcome to Wrexham" docuseries on the club’s fortuitous trajectory since the famous duo took the reins.
He wasn’t the only famous Englishman who chimed in ...
“A club with such amazing history, looking forward to a very exciting future back in the Football League. Doing Wales proud,” Prince William tweeted.
What is promotion, and how far away is Wrexham from the Premier League?
Simply put, promotion refers to the process in which a footy club ascends into a higher quality playing tier. The best-ranked teams from the lower tiers are promoted to the higher division for the next season while the worst-ranked teams are relegated to the lower division. A step in either direction can have profound financial impacts on football clubs, so more than anything else, teams battle tooth and nail to stay above the dreaded relegation zone. In the Premier League, the three teams with the least amount of points are relegated to the next tier down, the English Football League Championship, known simply as "the Championship."
Vaulted from the brink of obscurity, Wrexham will now play in the English Football League 2 next season, which is the fourth tier of the English football system. The distance to the Premier League is enormous, but it's not an impossible climb. In 2009, Bournemouth finished second in League 2, earning promotion to League 1. Just six years later, they were playing in the Prem.
Talking to reporters after Saturday’s game, an emotionally jubilant McElhenney showed a genuine love and passion for his team as he tried to verbalize what the victory means for the club and its ardent supporters.
“I think we can hear how it feels to the town, and that’s what’s most important for us — I think this is a moment of catharsis for them,” detailed Wrexham co-owner McElhenney. “For us to be welcomed into their community and to be welcomed into this experience has been the moment of my life.”
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