In the Hollywood world of make-believe, it is not always true that all that glitters is gold. So when Deadpool super hero Ryan Reynolds and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Rob McElhenney proposed a takeover of Wrexham, any scepticism was understandable. Even among the members of the Wrexham Supporters Trust, who had steered the club away from near oblivion, there was a tiny bit of dissent. But the Trust members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the takeover, and the result was a massive thumbs up – 26 fans voted against, nine abstained.
Thanks to these two famous owners, Wrexham AFC has become a global brand. The Hollywood stardust has been an incredible force for good, not just for the club, but also for the city of Wrexham. The quest to turn Wrexham back into a Football League club paralleled a classic Disney storyline. The first series of Welcome to Wrexham charted the entire takeover, but in football terms it chronicled disappointment. Wrexham missed out on promotion and were beaten in the FA Trophy Final. However, just like with Toy Story series, the second offering will be an even better watch – at least on the football front.
Wrexham are now back in the Football League for the first time since 2008, shaking off the dubious title of the longest serving club in the fifth tier. Yes, their success has garnered some bitterness from fans of their rivals; understandably, maybe, given the financial resources at their disposal. But it is important to remember that Wrexham are no nouveau riche, plastic club. Many of the fans who joyously celebrate now were prepared to put their own financial wellbeing at stake to save the oldest club in Wales and the third oldest professional football team in the world. This is the same club which took on Anderlecht in the European Cup Winners Cup quarter-finals in the 70s and beat Porto nearly a decade later.
The Hollywood razzmatazz shows no sign of losing its lustre. With the help of two unlikely owners, Wrexham are making new history. Manager Phil Parkinson has coped with everything in characteristically phlegmatic style, and his signings have been gilt-edged acquisitions. All have played at a higher level, but showed no arrogance or complacency about dropping down to the National League. Wrexham have been given a turbo boost of momentum which will ensure expectations are high for 2023-24 as they complete a four-Welsh-club complement in the Football League for the first time since 1988.
The takeover has been deeper than just first-team success. Reynolds and McElhenney have ensured the eyes of the world are on this part of north Wales, and tourist chiefs admit it’s the sort of promotion they could not buy for the area. As the promotion parties commence under the spotlight of the world’s media, it is clear that these movie moguls’ commitment will not wear off with the greasepaint. They have pledged to make a “positive difference to the wider community in participation with Wrexham Football Club”, and this is evident in their half-time celebration of the Wrexham women’s team who had been promoted to the Adran Premier. How far Wrexham can go now remains to be seen, but with financial Fair Play rules to adhere to in the EFL and greater financial resources required as they progress higher up, they will return with optimism to the bright, sunlit uplands of the Football League with a superhero in Reynolds to the fore.