How a pair of Hollywood stars powered a Welsh soccer team
LONDON (AP) — In February 2021, actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over Wrexham Association Football Club, a small team from the north of Wales, and now they’re releasing a documentary about their journey.
“Welcome to Wrexham,” which premieres on FX on Aug. 24, begins with the initial late-night conversation between the actors where the idea was formed, and fast forwards to them standing with the club’s fans in the terraces cheering on the team they now co-own.
Wrexham are the third oldest football team in the world and play in the English National League, the fifth tier of professional soccer. The show hops from Hollywood to Wales, from pitch to pub, with two of Hollywood’s biggest stars hoping to bring footballing success back to the town.
Reynolds has fallen head-over-heels in love with the beautiful game — so much so that he schedules his life around Wrexham matches.
“I am so obsessed with this sport now that I actually hate this sport. Like, I wish it didn’t occupy my every thought,” jokes the “Deadpool” actor.
Luckily, his wife, Blake Lively, shares his new interest — despite her initial worries about Reynold’s purchase.
Reynolds said when he purchased the club, his wife’s reaction was “Wait? What?!” — but now she’s as a bigger fan than he is. “She’s obsessed with Wrexham, she may be more obsessed with Wrexham and its possible promotion than I am.”
The decision to document their journey as owners of a football club was a no-brainer.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star McElhenney sees “sports as storytelling,” and the pair wanted to put Wrexham on the world stage, aiming to help broaden the club’s horizons thanks to their collective fame.
Initially Reynolds and McElhenney had very little experience and knowledge of football but, with a little bit of help from their friend David Beckham, they are now experts on the sport. Reynolds describes the former football star as the “nicest man in the world,” who gave them both “a lot of tips that have been incredibly helpful.”
The pair join other celebrities who have invested or lend their fame to soccer teams, a list that includes Elton John, Robert Plant, Will Ferrell, Kate Upton, Eva Longoria, Matthew McConaughey and Natalie Portman.
Next up for Wrexham AFC and its owners? Saturday’s match and a chance to move up from the bottom third of the table.
“I’m scheduling the time so I can make sure I’m uninterrupted and I can just focus on Wrexham,” says Reynolds. “I am living for our match on Saturday.”