Inside years since Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham takeover

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With today marking two years since Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney were confirmed as the co-chairmen of Wrexham, the football club has soared both on and off the pitch. In the most unlikely alliance in sporting history, the Hollywood actors bought the struggling National League side to change the fortunes of the club and community.

Any team can dream of rising to the Premier League, a dazzling kingdom of multi-million wages, global TV rights and international stardom. And where’s the best place for those dreams to come true? Hollywood, of course.

Reynolds, best known for his portrayal of Marvel superhero Deadpool, and McElhenney, who created and stars in the US sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, have certainly changed the club’s fortunes in the two years since taking over.

The duo searched the world for a sports team to invest in – a team with a story, a community, and a potential to blossom. Wrexham ticked all the boxes and, with a little investment, they have restored the club to its former glory.

Following a pitch by video link, which included a promise to immediately plough £2m ($2.5m) into the club and to build a new training facility, their takeover was unanimously approved by the Wrexham Supporters Trust, who had owned the club since 2011.

Upon completion of the takeover on February 9, 2021, Reynolds and McElhenney said: “It is a special day for the two of us to become the latest stewards in the long and storied history of Wrexham AFC.

“Together with the players, the staff, the fans and the local community, we can now pursue our goal to grow the team and return it to the EFL in front of increased attendances, and in an improved stadium, while making a positive difference to the wider community in Wrexham.”

Since taking over, Wrexham’s stock has risen quite dramatically. There’s been record ticket sales, an eye-catching shirt sponsorship deal with global social media platform TikTok, and a surprise inclusion in the FIFA video game franchise – the first ever club from the fifth tier to appear in the series.

The club’s social media channels also boomed in popularity – with an increase in followers week-on-week since. Since the inclusion of Reynolds and McElhenney, the club’s Twitter soared from 80,000 followers to a staggering 367,000.

And following the announcement of TikTok as its new front-of-shirt sponsors, and the launch of the club’s own channel on the site, Wrexham have gained over half a million followers on the platform since. Incredibly, the Welsh side have 17,000 more followers – 669,000 in total – than Premier League high flyers Fulham, too.

The excitement swirling around the club has been matched by an uptick in performances on the pitch, with the club narrowly missing out on promotion from the league in the first season since the takeover. In the same season, the team also reached the final of the FA Trophy competition, losing 1-0 to Bromley.

In reality, despite the club’s golden heritage and unwavering support from its passionate fanbase, Wrexham has spent most of its existence in relative obscurity.

Fast forward two years to the day since the pair took over and it’s evident that things are on the up for the Red Dragons.

In fairytale circumstances that can only be likened to a Hollywood script, Wrexham went on a magical FA Cup run that was brought to a halt by Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield United.

After a thrilling 3-3 draw in the first match in Wrexham, the National League side again pushed a team ranked 72 places above them all the way in a dramatic replay that could have gone either way.

Paul Mullin cancelled out Anel Ahmedhodzic’s opener for the Blades in the second half and had a chance to put Wrexham ahead with a second penalty, but saw his effort saved by Adam Davies.

Then with the game heading to extra-time, Billy Sharp and Sander Berge scored in the fourth and sixth minutes of stoppage time, respectively, to end the dreams of Wrexham and their celebrity owners.

It was another thrill-a-minute match between the teams, giving Reynolds and McElhenney plenty more material for their critically-acclaimed behind-the-scenes TV series for Disney+ ‘Welcome To Wrexham’.

After the game, Reynolds, a Canadian-born actor, posted to his 21.1m followers on Twitter: “So proud of these boys. And the 4,000 plus away supporters who gave it all.”

McElhenney also took to the platform, writing: “I could not be more proud of those men than I am right now. They gave it absolutely everything.”

While Wrexham are left to focus on their bid to return to the Football League, Sheffield United face a fifth-round fixture at home to Premier League giants Tottenham – a dream tie that will have to wait another day for Wrexham.

As it stands, the North Wales side are pushing for promotion back to the Football League for what would be the first time since 2008. Currently sitting in second and, with just 18 games to go until the end of the season, that drive was backed by McElhenney who tweeted after their FA Cup upset: “Now let’s go win this f***ing league.”

In the end, success will be judged by results on the pitch. Nobody is expecting overnight miracles. But a sprinkling of Hollywood magic dust over the last two years has brought a thrill of excitement to Wrexham.

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