Wrexham AFC - A club on their way up!
It is fair to say that Wrexham AFC have had a pretty tumultuous history, that is until American movie star Ryan Reynolds and his actor friend Rob McElhenney decided to buy the club in 2020. Now, 15 years since they were last there, Wrexham have returned to the English Football League.
It might come as a surprise to think that a movie star might want to buy a football club, but a lot of surprising things came out of the Covid pandemic, and this is just one of them...
It has become something of a fashion statement for American celebrities to own football teams - did you know that Mindy Kaling is part-owner of Swansea City? - so it should not come as too much of a shock that Ryan Reynolds should want to get in on the action. But it was actually Reynolds’ actor friend Rob McElhenney who first had his heart set on Wrexham.
McElhenney had gained a love of football while working with British actor, Humphrey Ker. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Ker - now Wrexham’s Executive Director - suggested a few football documentaries that McElhenney might enjoy watching while in lockdown. McElhenney was immediately hooked and did what anyone would do as a result. He decided he wanted to buy a football club.
McElhenney did not want to buy just any football club, though. He wanted a club with heart, passion and, most importantly, strong links within its community. Wrexham AFC soon presented itself as the ideal team.
But where does Ryan Reynolds come into all this?
Well, Reynolds describes himself as being ‘text friends’ with Rob McElhenney at the start of this venture (perhaps we should say ‘adventure’?). McElhenney sent Reynolds an email inviting him to buy Wrexham alongside him, with dreams of turning the club into a global force in football.
Reynolds was likely the ideal candidate for business partner as far as McElhenney was concerned, as he had already grown two businesses from scratch and sold them on at a huge profit. Reynolds’ Aviation Gin was sold to Diageo, a European alcohol company, for $610 million in 2020, and he agreed a $1.35 billion deal to sell his wireless carrier Mint Mobile to T-Mobile earlier this year.
So, in November 2020, Reynolds and McElhenney approached Wrexham with an offer, and the £2.5 million deal was confirmed in February 2021 after 98.6% of the 2,000 members of the Wrexham Supporters Trust voted to back it.
However, the route from small-town football team to anticipated ‘global’ force’ did not get off to the strongest start. Yes, became the first non-league football team to be featured on the FIFA console game having been added to the ‘Rest of World’ section of FIFA 22, but despite that promising omen, the first season with Reynolds and McElhenney at the helm didn't quite go as planned.
While Wrexham finished an impressive second in the 2021-22 season following signings such as Cambridge United’s Paul Mullin to boost their squad, they failed to grasp promotion to the English Football League as they lost 5-4 to Grimsby Town in the play-off semi final. They also missed out on the 2022 FA Trophy by losing 1-0 to Bromley in the final.
It wasn’t all bad though, as Ryan Reynolds’ star quality brought huge attention to Wrexham, breathing life and excitement into the area, with Wrexham quickly growing in popularity as a tourist destination.
Before they knew it, Reynolds and McElhenney were part of their own football documentary series, Welcome To Wrexham, giving further insight into the club, and highlighting many of the local people that make the club, and the community of Wrexham, the special place that it is. It is clear to anyone watching the documentary that Reynolds and McElhenney are extremely passionate about their club, and are determined to invest in the people that make it so good.
2022-23 Season Success
This past season has been a big one for Wrexham, with several free transfers adding talent to their ranks, as Wrexham are now able to pay their players at well above the standard wages for a National Football League club.
When Wrexham’s goalkeepers Mark Howard and Rob Lainton both went out with injuries which would see them off the pitch for the rest of the reason, the club reached out to happily-retired ex-England goalie Ben Foster to help keep their league-winning hopes and dreams alive. After a meeting with Ryan Reynolds, Foster was taken by his active and passionate approach and decided to take on a short-term contract to help Wrexham over the line and into League Two.
Foster had previously played for Wrexham many years ago, helping him to springboard into a highly successful Premier League career, so Foster wanted to give something back to the club. Indeed, it has recently been reported that Foster has signed on with Wrexham for a further year, on the condition that he is able to have a better work-life balance than he had previously in the Premiership, wanting to continue working on his highly successful podcast, Fozcast, and spend quality time with his family.
The addition of Ben Foster to the squad undoubtedly played a huge part in Wrexham’s promotion, with the keeper retaining three clean sheets in the eight appearances that he made for the club. Not to mention that 96-minute penalty save against Notts Forest, which resulted in another three points for Wrexham, contributing to their top-of-the-table end to the season.
2023-24 Season Hopes
Alongside the retention of Ben Foster for another season, top scorer Paul Mullin has signed a one-year extension to his contract, in order to remain at Wrexham for the coming season. While undoubtedly Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and the rest of the club are hoping for a double promotion to be on the cards at Wrexham, how do the bookies fancy their chances of promotion into League One? Well, it turns out, the bookies think their chances are pretty good. William Hill are offering just 8/11 on Wrexham to be promoted. The table below shows the odds some of the other bookmakers are offering for Wrexham’s promotion next season:
It is also easy to find odds on Wrexham to win League Two in the 2023-24 season, with most bookies listing Wrexham as the odds-on favourite to finish top of the league. Some of our top bookies are offering the following odds:
Of course, if you are looking for a slightly more interesting Wrexham bet for next season, Ladbrokes are offering odds of 14/1 for Wrexham to win the League Two title and Paul Mullin to be top goalscorer.
Furthermore, if you fancy Wrexham’s chances in the FA Cup, Skybet are offering odds of 500/1 for Wrexham to be FA Cup winner 23/24, while Parimatch are giving significantly better value on the same punt, with odds of 1000/1.
One thing is for sure, the world will be watching the Red Dragons closely next season and in seasons to come, to see if Wrexham really do become the ‘global force’ that Rob McElhenney envisaged when he asked Ryan Reynolds to come on board with his dream of owning a football club.
And if all of the excitement at Wrexham has left you feeling shaken, but not stirred, you can also get odds of 1000/1 on Ryan Reynolds being cast as the next James Bond at Skybet.