It’s not altogether uncommon for celebrities to buy or invest in sports teams. Bill Maher, for instance, made an investment – a very shrewd one – in the New York Mets. Jay-Z, of course, made a huge investment in the Nets, which was instrumental in bringing the NBA team back to Brooklyn. And, a coalition of the Williams’ sisters, Gloria Estefan, Fergie (Black-Eyed Peas) and Jennifer Lopez, invested in the Miami Dolphins.
But while those investments in some of the most important pro sports teams in America were headline news, none of them was as eyebrow-raising as Ryan Reynolds’ purchase of Welsh soccer club, Wrexham AFC. Reynolds, along with actor pal Rob McElhenny, purchased the club in 2020, and it caused quite a stir in the Welsh town. You’ll always see news stories of angry soccer fans upset when “foreign” owners arrive to buy a club. But this sale was a box-office hit for the Deadpool star – 98.6% of the fans group, the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust voted to back the purchase.
Wrexham backed to rise in English soccer
Of course, with all due respect to Wrexham, this is not a glamorous soccer club in the vein of Manchester United or Chelsea. The team is mired in the fifth tier of English soccer – the National League. But the investment of Reynolds and McElhenny is expected to bear fruit eventually. The sports betting website, 888 Sport, puts Wrexham as the co-favourites to win the National League with odds of +350. That would mean promotion to EFL League 2, and another step towards the ultimate dream – the English Premier League.
The new season has kicked off in England (Wrexham is one of a handful of Welsh clubs that plays in the English system), and Wrexham opened with a 2-2 draw against Solihull Moors. While the coach Phil Parkinson will feel aggrieved that the team did not take the win (Wrexham conceded an equaliser in injury time), there were encouraging signs that the Reynolds-era could be an exciting one for the Welsh club.
Both Reynolds and McElhenny have been careful not to be seen as disinterested remote investors. Passions run high among fans, even of small clubs like Wrexham. Protests, some of which descend into violence and police arrests, against owners who are deemed poor stewards for a soccer team are not uncommon in British soccer. And while Reynolds and McElhenny are hugely popular, any suggestion that they not taking care of the club would make things turn sour.
Hollywood pair have embraced “football” culture
Thankfully, the Hollywood pair seem to “get it”. Reynolds recently quipped that he would never use the word “soccer” when talking about Wrexham, and that he would only call it “football” as is the norm in the UK. How far can the actors take this team? Money talks in European soccer, and the initial investment might be enough to take Wrexham up the ladder a couple of rungs, but you are literally talking about billions of dollars of investment to compete at the very top of the Premier League.
For the moment, though, Wrexham fans are enjoying the ride. The first home game of the season comes on August 30th, and the fans will be packing the Racehorse Ground in Wrexham. Will the celebrity owners be dropping in to cheer on the team? You can be sure they will get a warm reception whenever they do.