Celebrities and high-profile individuals acquiring or investing in sports franchises has been a growing trend. Recent years have seen the likes of LeBron James and Jay-Z investing to gain acquisitions of Liverpool FC and Brooklyn Nets respectively are a few examples of how celebrities lookout to diversify their portfolios and to be involved in something they are passionate about.
Among the most popular example of this rising though, is the takeover of Wrexham AFC by Hollywood superstars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The two actors were attracted by the team’s storied history, its passionate fanbase, and its potential for growth, and in 2020, they made a joint investment of $2.5 million to purchase the club. The acquisition was seen as a sign of the growing interest in football among American investors, as well as the continued globalization of the sport.
Wrexham AFC, founded in 1864, is the third-oldest professional football club in the world, and its history is steeped in tradition and folklore. The club has faced its fair share of ups and downs over the years, including a period of financial hardship that threatened its very existence. But the supporters have always remained loyal, and the club has persevered through thick and thin.
Initially taken in as an investment based completely on financial purposes, the pair were very quick to grow on fans ever since they started showing their love and passion towards the club and football as a whole.
Just like Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney has been a vocal supporter of Wrexham since the acquisition, speaking openly about his love for the sport and his passion for the club. He has been seen wearing Wrexham gear on multiple occasions, including in interviews and on social media. He’s often also been noticed praising the club and speaking about his love for football and his admiration of the Red Dragons supporters.
Continuing on this trend, the “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star recently made headlines after an old Instagram post resurfaced and went viral. In the image, McElhenney can be seen wearing a retro Wrexham kit from the 2001-02 season. The iconic red and white striped shirt, paired with white shorts and red socks, is a nod to the club’s rich history and the passionate supporters who have stood behind the team for over a century. The season saw Wrexham finish 23rd in the second division of English football.
Simple actions like sporting a retro club kit leave an immense mark in the minds of a club’s die-hard supporters. Unlike the Fenway Sporting Group (FSG), or the Glazers, who are in charge of two of the pioneers of English and world football, Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, McElhenney and Reynolds are viewed in the eyes of Wrexham fans as owners who do not view their football clubs as cash cows and who genuinely want to leave a mark on their club. Clubs whose owners have been backed by their enthusiasts have seen immense success in the past. Chelsea under Roman Abramovich and FC Barcelona under Joan Laporta’s first stint are only a few such examples.
In addition to his public displays of support, McElhenney has also been actively involved in the club’s operations. He has attended matches and meetings and has spoken about his plans to invest in the team’s facilities, such as the training ground and stadium. This investment is seen as a crucial step in the club’s development, and fans are optimistic about the team’s future under McElhenney and Reynolds’ ownership.
The future of Wrexham AFC looks bright under McElhenney and Reynolds’ ownership. With a renewed sense of purpose and investment, the team has the potential to reach new heights and become a force in the football world. The true passion that the Wrexham AFC owners emanate towards their club brings a sense of belonging among the fans about the American pair, a feeling the majority of fans rooting for England’s top clubs lack.
Following a high-voltage dramatic match that featured a last-gasp Ben Foster penalty save, Wrexham AFC clinched the National League Championship and gained promotion to League 2 of English football. The Welsh club will now be a part of the football league after a 15-year drought that saw the club reach the brink of bankruptcy before being bankrolled by the American duo of Reynolds and McElhenney.