Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney on Monday bought one of the world’s oldest soccer teams and plan to document their first foray into the sport in a fly-on-the-wall TV show.
In a pinch-yourself moment for the success-starved fans of Welsh club Wrexham, Reynolds and McElhenney completed a US$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 that 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 Hotspur in recent years.
“That’s happened. We’re documenting it,” McElhenney, US actor and creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, told supporters.
“We should be thinking about Wrexham the way Man U thinks about Man U. Engage in club, communities. What a great way to do it,” McElhenney said.
Wrexham, which has been a fan-owned club since 2011, said that the “RR McReynolds Company” would take 100 percent control — subject to confirmation by soccer authorities — following a vote among supporters in which more than 98 percent were in favor of the purchase by Reynolds and McElhenney.
Chris Jones, a member of the supporters’ trust, was on the recent call with Reynolds and McElhenney and said that 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.
“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 said. “So they sent out advisers to find a club that fitted their criteria, and it’s us.”
Jones said the new owners have a British-style sense of humor 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 chief executive.
“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.”
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