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Why Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham and much they paid – the full story

Why Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham and much they paid – the full story

Wrexham will come up against Championship side Blackburn in the FA Cup fourth round on Monday night.

It is a Tuesday afternoon that will go down in Wrexham's 158-year history.

On February 9, 2021, Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney celebrated their highly-anticipated takeover of then-National League side after they shook hands with the Wrexham Supporters Trust for a fee believed to be £2 million.

Reynolds and McElhenney have since invested a further £10 million into the fourth-tier side, according to the Daily Mail, with some of that cash covering the repurchase of the freehold of the club’s Racecourse Ground, while another £1.2 million was invested in shares.

So how did two of Hollywood's biggest actors stumble across a small team from the north of Wales?

It all started on the set of Mythic Quest – an American comedy television series created by Charlie Day, Megan Ganz and soon-to-be Wrexham owner Rob McElhenney, who would eat lunch alongside British actor Humphrey Ker – one of the show's writers.

Ker would often watch Liverpool's live midweek games, which led McElhenney to show an interest in football.

McElhenney had struggled to understand the appeal of football beyond playing FIFA with his kids but the constant exposure to Jurgen Klopp's side sparked something inside the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia actor to the point where he watched hit Netflix documentary Sunderland ’Til I Die.

He was soon hooked.

"I'm laying claim to the fact (Rob's) interest in football derives from several years of teasing me for watching football during our lunch breaks at work," Ker said to the BBC. "Until eventually, just by pure osmosis, I got him interested in the game to the degree that he decides to buy a football team."

Kerr also told FourFourTwo magazine: "Rob saw how much me and another guy on set were into it. But the big shift was during lockdown. I recommended he watched Sunderland ’Til I Die. I thought, ‘That’s the key to this. He’s a storyteller. He needs to understand the story of football’.

Sunderland Till I Die inspired the scenes at the Racecourse Ground. Image: Alamy
Sunderland Till I Die inspired the scenes at the Racecourse Ground. Image: Alamy

“The All Or Nothing documentaries are very good, but they don’t cut to the heart of the game, which is the fans. Rob being Rob, he devoured every documentary. He’s a doer, so he said, ‘Let’s buy a football club’. I said, ‘Er yeah, OK’. He replied, ‘No, really’.”

Ker would soon create a list of 'must haves' in a club which included facilities, fanbase, history, finance and narrative. With the help of the popular game Football Manager, National League side Wrexham came out on top with 38 marks out of 50.

"I had nothing else to do, so I went on Wikipedia and Football Manager - literally - Football Manager as we know has an incredible database it would be hard to find elsewhere," Ker explained on the Tifo Football Podcast. "I picked out 8-10 clubs in the National League, National League North and South, and League 2.

"I think I've named some of them. Hartlepool was looked at vaguely, Macclesfield was talked about. A few we talked about that we knew were in trouble. We knew from the jump we wanted to find somewhere that needed a helping hand or needed a stroke of luck.

"Some of the ones I looked at initially we struck off because they were in the outskirts of London and Manchester or somewhere we thought there was plenty of opportunity anyway. Wrexham very quickly became top dog through a variety of fans, which sounds like a very pat answer but it's true.

"The season before we came involved, they were averaging 4,500 a week at the Racecourse when they were 19th in the National League. Unbelievable number of people, and that told you they were the definition of a sleeping giant, a fallen great of the game."

In the coming months, negotiations to buy Wrexham would progress and during this time, Rob McElhenney would start chatting to fellow Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds, who reached out to McElhenney after watching a comedic rendition of an interpretive dance on an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

"Rob had done a sequence on 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' that I just thought, pound for pound, was one of the most beautiful three minutes I'd ever seen, on this show that he'd obviously created and worked on for so many years,' Reynolds told The Athletic.

"So I just let him know. We kind of became friends, like text friends. We never actually met or anything like that. So then one day Rob sends me an email that outlines his plan to buy a lower-league club and grow it into something more resembling a global force.

"I just saw the path that he laid out, the phosphorescence in the water so to speak, and I was in. I just thought it was so unexpected and so interesting and I love building businesses and this is a business."

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

In February 2021, Reynolds and McElhenney took over previously fan-owned Wrexham Association Football Club and hired Humphrey Ker as Executive Director.

"It is a special day for the two of us to become the latest stewards in the long and storied history of Wrexham AFC," Reynolds said in a statement.

"Together with the players, the staff, the fans and the local community, we can now pursue our goal to grow the team and return it to the EFL in front of increased attendances, and in an improved stadium, while making a positive difference to the wider community in Wrexham."

He added: "Wrexham AFC is only in a position to thrive because of the incredible efforts of the Wrexham Supporters Trust. Their members are a fitting reflection of the integrity and spirit of the town and they will always have an important role at the club."

It has been another memorable season for the Red Dragons, who currently sit second in the League Two ladder after picking up an impressive 15 wins from a possible 27.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/vancityreynolds

Topics: Wrexham, Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney, League Two, FA Cup