An ode to Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, football’s best owners

“This is the question we have received more than any other,” read the letter to supporters in the local newspaper.

“Why Wrexham? Because you deserve it.

“For 158 years of fearless dedication.

“For building a club and a community the world should know about.

“For withstanding the storms that would have destroyed lesser cities.

“For your cheers, your courage, your traditions, your warmth.

“And because just over a year ago you took a chance on two Hollywood jokers who knew very little about Wales or football.”

These are not empty sentiments, not the kind of dishonest flattery sent by business owners to fans at clubs across the country.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, strange as it sounds, really care about Wrexham AFC.

Since buying the club last year, they have forged a bond with the fans like no other in British football.

From the outside, there is still a lot of perplexity. Two Hollywood celebrities falling for a Welsh football club languishing outside the league was unlikely news, even in the age of the pandemic.

Cynics would claim the intention was simply to buy a football team in the lower leagues and tell the story – in documentary form – of the rise up the divisions.

Although that was originally the case, Reynolds and McElhenney grew more and more invested with every twist throughout an entertaining National League season.

McElhenney, star of Philadelphia is always sunnyis a self-proclaimed sports fan and was the catalyst for the takeover, so his joy at every win at Wrexham came as no surprise.

Reynolds, meanwhile, seemed a bit more contained at first, content to work his contacts in the background and bring in lucrative sponsors like TikTok.

But now he’s just as obsessed. His presence at the Raceourse Stadium for last month’s FA Trophy semi-final against Stockport, when Wrexham’s top scorer Paul Mullin found the net in injury time with a glorious lob, seemed like the moment he really is fell in love with football.

The visibility of both owners made them immensely popular. Their humorous and uplifting social media posts, their warm personalities when visiting Wrexham, their desire to help the community and improve the town: it all left the fans going wild.

There may not be landlords in the country as popular as Ryan and Rob. Some may scoff at this and suggest that it’s all just a little saccharine.

But Wrexham fans are not concerned. After years of sneaky and incompetent owners, this is truly refreshing and has brought a boost of optimism.

And, crucially, Reynolds and McElhenney are not venture capitalists, not a corrupt state hoping to use football to clean up their tarnished reputations. They are not sleazy oligarchs or weird tech billionaires.

They are friendly and genuine, and clearly want to be part of the football journey as much as any fan.

And the first season is promising. Wrexham were beaten to the National League title by Stockport County, another club that has seen significant investment in recent years.

But a second-place finish means a chance to return to the Football League via the playoffs. There is also a trip to Wembley on the horizon as Wrexham take on Bromley in the FA Trophy final this weekend.

The success would not have been possible without the new purchasing power of the club. Mullin was the star summer signing and his return of 26 league goals proved invaluable.

The likes of Ben Tozer, Aaron Hayden, James Jones and Ollie Palmer, all signed from Football League clubs, have also impressed.

Reynolds and McElhenney claimed that the goal was to at least achieve the championship, although the first step, and perhaps the most difficult, was promotion from the notoriously difficult National League.

Whatever happens, however, Wrexham fans will feel lucky.

A club that was on the verge of bankruptcy just over a decade ago can now boast of having the best owners in football.

By Callum Rice Coates

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