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Soccer

Why did Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buy a soccer team in Wales?

‘Welcome to Wrexham’ premiers this week on FX/Disney focusing on the Welsh soccer club owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Update:
Ryan Reynolds & Rob McElhenney, owners of Wrexham.
CRAIG BROUGHReuters

Ryan Reynolds is on a mission. And it has nothing to do with any of the Hollywood blockbuster movies the Canadian actor has starred in. After the 2020 announcement when he, together with fellow actor Rob McElhenney decided to purchase lower league Welsh side Wrexham AFC, both men’s objective is to propel The Dragons from the English fifth division (National League) through to the higher echelons of the pyramid system.

The arrival of both Hollywood stars at the club caused an inevitable surge of global media interest with the club enjoying a boost in season ticket sales as well as the online business shipping the famous red shirt to all parts of the planet. The Racecourse Ground, home to the 157 year old club now sees matchday attendance in five figures as fans pack the old stadium.

Now, the experience of the new owners in their two years in charge has been immortalized in a documentary by FX, a Disney subsidiary called: Welcome To Wrexham, in which both actors recount the adventure of changing the silver screen for another totally different business experience. “If everything falls into place, hopefully we will be in the Premier League within 25 years,” Reynolds explains in a part of the documentary.

Wrexham Association Football Club's players leave the pitch at half-time during National League fixture
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Wrexham Association Football Club's players leave the pitch at half-time during National League fixture OLI SCARFFAFP

“We love sports. We love telling stories through sport. You have to manage it like a business, but in most cases a business is where you have to make a profit,” says the Canadian, who has invested more than two million euros in the project he decided to join for a very personal reason.

“The main area of life where I got the most support from my father was when he was good at sports. So I played sports way past the point where I was really motivated to do it just to get their buy-in. My father has been dead for years, but these things don’t go away,” he says, though he doesn’t think his father would have approved with the venture into owning a soccer team. “I’m sure he would have thought that all this was crazy,” he added.

And it’s this love for sport that is conveyed throughout the documentary, as Reynolds adds: “It is about putting Wrexham on the world stage”. “It’s a story of the underdog and that’s a story I love,” he adds, although not the whole process is a fairy tale, since they have also had to face difficult decisions such as firing some players. Many of these players don’t have substantial Premier League type contracts to fall back on so they can retire

Purpose, goals and responsibility for both Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are always clear throughout the documentary. “The objective is to get out of this league, that’s all. If we don’t get promoted, it’s our fault. I have only been the owner of a football club for a short time. But so far I have found it to be very time consuming, emotionally draining, financially stupid and totally addictive.” Ryan Reynolds’ obsession with The Dragons has been on the rise since he took over the Welsh outfit, as he recently confessed on BBC Radio 4′s Today program.

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Getty Images

Now I’m obsessed with Wrexham. I admit I was a little skeptical at first, but I wasn’t as hooked as I am now. A part of me wishes I hadn’t found football, I feel like it’s a legal poison. My mood now lives and dies on Saturdays when the club plays. I try not to get totally wrapped up in it, but I feel like it’s chewing up my organs and spitting them out every week, win or lose. It’s a hellish journey”, he concludes.