Fans of ‘Jeopardy’ someday will surely see this answer, “The two stars of ‘Deadpool’ and ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ that own the soccer club, Wrexham AFC”. The buzzer will hit and standing at the mic will be someone who could be familiar with American television, and not necessarily sport. He’ll say, “Who is Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney?”. The host will say, “Correct answer”. The two have heroically taken the Welsh club from the fifth tier of the English League system to promotion in just two years of ownership. Viewers at home will smile because it’ll be a familiar story for many. America has a new favorite underdog, and yes, it’s led by Deadpool.
As chronicled in the 2022 Documentary series ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ on FX, McElhenney got the sports ownership bug and recruited “Hollywood money” to make his dream reality. Reynolds jumped on board and soon enough the City of Wrexham (population of approximately 136,000) had a buzz. Their team was reborn. New players, new coach, a stadium remodel, and a massively growing fan base has generations of fans in Wrexham feeling their team has hope for the first time since 2013. The team was relegated to the National League in 2015 and hasn’t appeared equipped for a promotion until now.
The FX series has been a critical success not just for the network, but for the team as well. New-found attention has given ownership a bargaining chip when recruiting free agents and signing new deals for stadium expansion.
I love a good “Before and After”. @Wrexham_AFC & @LifeFitness 💪 pic.twitter.com/oxLdkoMpWp
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) February 2, 2023
Winning over the fans, and importantly the governing body of Wrexham, was key to proving they were here for the long run. Wrexham’s residents speculated that the Hollywood stars were making a publicity stunt at their expense. Two years later, the ownership’s vision is beginning to take shape not just in Wrexham, but across the pond as well.
America has quickly become a growing fan base for the club. Currently, in the middle of an underdog run in the FA Cup, Wrexham has been the most watched team on ESPN+ and has shown they deserve to play with teams levels above them in the rankings. Being a ratings driver has earned Wrexham AFC a promotion to ESPN 2 for their Fourth Round replay match against Sheffield United of the Championship League on Tuesday, February 7. Every win from here in the FA Cup would bring Wrexham their next biggest challenge, but at the end of the day, winning the FA Cup is just icing on the cake. Soccer commentator (and lifelong Wrexham supporter) Bryn Law recently told Derek Reese of ‘World Soccer Talk’, “The FA Cup stuff is a glorious distraction, but it is no more than that. The only goal this year is that the football club has to get promoted.”
With promotion on the horizon and local fandom hitting a peak not seen before, Wrexham AFC has made plans to continue to grow their American fan base. On February 3, the club will make its debut in America by competing in a winner-takes-all $1 million prize tournament in Cary, North Carolina, appropriately named ‘The Soccer Tournament’. In true Hollywood fashion, Wrexham AFC made that announcement with viral content from Reynolds and McElhenney.
🔴⚪ #WxmAFC x @TST7v7 pic.twitter.com/VnX64JFm4S
— Wrexham AFC (@Wrexham_AFC) February 3, 2023
Whether Wrexham AFC wins the TST, wins the FA Cup, or earns promotion this season or not, one thing does appear to be a lock. America has a new favorite soccer team.