What’s better than two likeable, excitable, egotists fronting perhaps far too much money to get into a business enterprise they know nothing about?
As Hollywood duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney embark on their new journey as owners of an English football club, someone clearly thought the same, and it’s now the focus of a new FX documentary. But first some backstory.
Josh St. Clair, writing for Men’s Health, documents the exchange that launched this bizarre venture—with DMs being exchanged between the stars on Instagram for months without them ever meeting.
“The text buddies wondered whether they should buy a European football club. Then, Reynolds and McElhenney went ahead and actually bought a European football club. What do they know about running a football club? Reynolds: “We don’t know anything about running a football club.” They still have not met. The football season is currently more than half over.”
Despite sitting in the 5th tier of the English Football League, Wrexham A.F.C. in Wales has a proud footballing history. Founded in the mid 1800s, the ‘Red Dragons’ are one of the oldest clubs in the country, and have produced several prodigious players including Hall of Fame striker, Welsh icon, and five-time title winner with Liverpool, Ian Rush.
For American readers, the only comparable example is that Wrexham A.F.C would be playing single-A baseball, but a step below that in reality. With a pyramid of 8 levels, the top occupied by the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, the bottom 6 7 and 8 levels could be occupied by official football squads of military units, or community-led initiatives that literally train in backyards.
It would be a big test for the newly formed ‘RR McReynolds Company LLC’ to turn the Wrexham ship around, but far from being led by Deadpool and Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Reynolds and McElhenny are taking the project very seriously.
From farce to football
Having posted around $1.1 million (£740,000) in losses for the 2019/20 season, and with the principal stand at their stadium ground being declared unsafe, the club was in a bad way at the start of the COVID season of 2020/21. With fans unable to attend games, the principal methods of income for lower-league football teams was gone.
Reynolds and McElhenney , who will be referred to by their business moniker, “McReynolds,” got straight to work with ambitious plans, starting with the decision not to renew the contract of the first team staff and head coach Dean Keates. Keates missed out on the playoffs this season, a single-elimination that determines which clubs get “promoted” to the next highest division.
“We are committed to returning the club to the EFL (English Football League, aka the top four divisions) at the earliest opportunity and feel that a change of manager will provide us with the best chance of achieving that objective,” the owners stated, sounding much more like real owners than Yanks ignorant of the concept of “points” and “promotions.”
In an epoch of the ‘Beautiful Game’ where every season features rumors of a massive Chinese or Saudi takeover of a club somewhere in Europe, the local supporters of Wrexham A.F.C. must have been shocked that the Hollywood duo were taking control of their club, but delighted to hear that a reported $2 million would be invested as a means of getting the club back into the EFL.
The $2 million will go towards refurbishing their 5,000-seat main stand in their home field of Racecourse Ground, developing a new 22-acre training facility, and signing players needed to challenge for promotion.
Amid statements, McReynolds appointed Les Reed, a former technical director of the English Football Association, as an advisor to football strategy and operations.
“We have recruited Les Reed as an adviser to create a football strategy for the club that will deliver the sustainable model we committed to create,” McReynolds said in a statement. “The search for a new manager/head coach is a fundamental part of the strategy and is our immediate priority.”
The pair then hired on a trio of Wrexham Supporter’s Trust members as Vice Presidents, to ensure any decisions made reflect the fans’ preferences, and to create a strong attachment to community.
“The resources, both physical and human, will be provided where possible to help achieve our goal of achieving promotion at the earliest possible opportunity,” they said.
“Our goal is to grow the team, return it to the EFL in front of increased attendances at an improved stadium, while making a positive difference to the wider community in Wrexham.
The new documentary “Welcome to Wrexham” has no present release date.