A Football Fairy Tale: The Rebirth of Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC, a football club located in North Wales, holds a storied history and significant cultural significance in the region. Established in 1864, Wrexham AFC has a rich heritage that spans over a century, with a loyal fanbase and a strong presence in the local community.

A Football Fairy Tale: The Rebirth of Wrexham AFC

I. Introduction

Wrexham AFC, a football club located in North Wales, holds a storied history and significant cultural significance in the region. Established in 1864, Wrexham AFC has a rich heritage that spans over a century, with a loyal fanbase and a strong presence in the local community. However, in recent years, the club has faced various challenges, including financial troubles, ownership struggles, and declining on-pitch performances that led to relegation from the Football League. These obstacles threatened the existence of the club and cast uncertainty over its future. Despite these challenges, Wrexham AFC has persevered and embarked on a remarkable journey of rebirth, capturing the attention and imagination of football fans around the world. This article will delve into the history and significance of Wrexham AFC, as well as the challenges it has faced in recent years, setting the stage for the compelling story of the club's revival.

II. The History of Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC was formed in October 1864 by members of the Wrexham Cricket Club who wanted a sporting activity for the winter months. This makes them (after Sheffield, Cray, Hallam, and Notts County) the fifth oldest association football team, the third oldest professional club and the oldest in Wales. Their first game was played on 22 October 1864 at the Denbighshire County Cricket Ground (The Racecourse) against the Prince of Wales Fire Brigade.

The club initially participated in friendlies and cup competitions, and first entered a league by joining The Combination in 1890. They spent 13 seasons in the Combination and two seasons in the Welsh Senior League, winning four Combination titles and two Welsh Senior League titles. Due to multiple reorganizations of the footballing league, they changed multiple times the league, but most of the time played in the English lower divisions.

Wrexham's honors include winning the Welsh Cup a record 23 times, the Football League Trophy in 2005 at the Millennium Stadium and the FA Trophy in 2013 at Wembley Stadium. The club are also record winners of the short-lived FAW Premier Cup, winning it five times out of the 11 years of its tenure, participating against fellow Welsh clubs such as Cardiff City, Swansea City and Newport County. However, their biggest rivalries are with English clubs, Chester and Shrewsbury Town, with games between the clubs known as the Cross-border derby. In 1992, Wrexham upset the reigning English Champions Arsenal in the FA Cup. They also scored a 1-0 victory over FC Porto in 1984 in the European Cup Winners' Cup. Wrexham were eligible for the European Cup Winners' Cup due to winning the Welsh Cup; their first European tie was against FC Zürich of Switzerland in 1972 and their last was played in Romania against Petrolul Ploiești in 1995. Wrexham's home stadium, the Racecourse Ground, is the world's oldest international stadium that still continues to host international games. The record attendance at the ground was set in 1957, when the club hosted a match against Manchester United in front of 34,445 spectators.

III. A New Chapter: The Arrival of Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds

In September 2020, Wrexham AFC made headlines around the football world when it was announced that the club had been acquired by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, two high-profile Hollywood actors known for their work in popular TV shows and movies. The news of the club's acquisition by the duo generated immense excitement and curiosity among football fans and the media alike.

Officially, Wrexham are owned by a company called RR McReynolds Company LLC. That is the company that McElhenney and Reynolds set up in order to buy Wrexham back in November 2020. Rob McElhenney is best known for his role as Ronald "Mac" McDonald in the famous comedy series 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia', while Ryan Reynolds, perhaps the bigger name of the two, found huge success when he played the character of Deadpool. He is marries with actress Blake Lively with who he has four children.

Rob, a long-life sports fan started to have an interest in football and decided to buy a football club. When he realized how much money he would need in order to do this, he understood that he would need a partner for this endeavor. According to his statement, he had "TV Money", but in order to do this, he would need "Hollywood Money", reason for which he reached out and partnered with Ryan Reynolds.

After numerous meetings with the representatives of the supporters, they purchased the club and immediately invested the 2.35 million dollars into the club players and facilities. As the season was underway and the club was not in a good chance to get promoted, they waited for the 2021-2022 season for changes to the staff and players. Phil Parkinson was brought as a coach, while players like Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer were transferred to help the club get promoted after 15 years in the National League. Unfortunately the club missed out on automatic promotion during the 2021-2022 seasons and lost unexpectedly in the play-offs, so the long awaited promotion was not achieved.

Ryan Reynolds Turns Wrexham FC Into a Success Story

A big part of building a success story has always been about shaping audience perception. Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney being veterans of the Hollywood industry understood that and consequently put their marketing skills to work beside the already attached fame that came with their names.

One of the primary steps toward shaping audience perception was the integration of the club into social media. With over 850,000 followers spanning Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, the club has now potentially turned this social media boost into a revenue opportunity. Wrexham FC currently holds kit sponsorship deals with TikTok, Aviation American Gin, Expedia, and Vistaprint.

Aviation American Gin was at that time partly owned by Ryan Reynold. Since then he sold the company for 610 million dollars and he is close to selling also his part in Mint Mobile to T-Mobile for 305 million dollars. Both these deals show that Ryan is a talented business man, and his investments plans at the moment include Wrexham AFC. There are also rumors about him putting in a bid for the Canadian NHL team Ottawa Senators.

Welcome to Wrexham

After the club has been purchased, an all-access docuseries was first announced by Rob and Ryan on May 18, 2021. The series is produced by Boardwalk Pictures, while filming for the docuseries began in December 2020. The show presents the raise to glory of the Wrexham AFC club and can be seen on Disney Plus. It consists until now of two seasons already released, while a third is already filming. The numbers suggest that the documentary raked in almost 5 million dollars.

IV. Present and future of Wrexham AFC

Currently. Wrexham play in the National League, which is England’s fifth tier of football. The Premier League sits at the top of the pyramid, with the Championship below. Then, there is League One and League Two as the third and fourth tiers. Wrexham are one division below. After this tier of football, the divisions then become divided up into regional leagues.

Why does Welsh club Wrexham play in English league, you ask? Wrexham AFC, just like Swansea, Cardiff City, Newport County, and Merthyr Town, play as part of the English Football League structure as no Welsh football league existed when they were formed. Although the Cymru Premier (the name of the Welsh Premier League) was created in 1992, these clubs have remained in the English system.

During the 2022-2023 seasons they mount a very impressive challenge for automatic promotion, going head to head almost all season with Notts County. Last night, in a thrilling derby in Wrexham, the two clubs met in a promotion derby, 4 games before the end of the season. Notts County was leading at half time, after a wonderful freekick goal, but Wrexham AFC came back to take the lead with 2-1 and 3-2. In the last play of the game, Notts County were awarded a penalty kick, which was denied by the legendary Ben Foster, former Manchester United goalkeeper. Ben played for Wrexham AFC 18 years ago, in the beginning of his career and was called by Phil Parkinson a few weeks ago to help the club for the last 8 games, due to an injury crisis. With the save of the penalty against Notts County in min 95 of the derby, Ben really made an impact at Wrexham AFC and with 4 games to go, they can smell the promotion back into the Football League, a promotion they have been dreaming about for 15 years.

The team also had an excellent FA Cup run this season, being knocked out of the competition in the Fourth Round by the former Premier League club Sheffield United, after a replay match.  In the first match, Wrexham AFC was leading Sheffield United until the last minute of the game.

V. Conclusion

The acquisition of Wrexham AFC by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds has marked a new era for the club. From the dark times of financial struggles and on-pitch decline, Wrexham AFC has experienced a remarkable rebirth under the new ownership. The vision and plans shared by McElhenney and Reynolds, along with their commitment to engaging with the fans and local community, have brought renewed hope and momentum to the club.

The story of Wrexham AFC's recent journey is nothing short of a football fairy tale. From the brink of extinction to being acquired by Hollywood stars, the club's revival is a story of resilience, passion, and the unwavering support of its fans. It is a testament to the power of football as a unifying force, and the remarkable impact that dedicated ownership and vision can have on a football club.

When asked where is Wrexham AFC going to stop, the new owners have only one answer, "The Premier League". What do you think of the story of Wrexham AFC?