Celebrities investing in soccer teams isn’t a new development. LeBron James is a minority owner of Liverpool. Drew Carey is part-owner of the Seattle Sounders The expansion NWSL team in LA’s ownership group, as well as LAFC is strewn with glitterati like Natalie Portman and Jessica Chastain, just to name a few. The list goes on and on from there. As more Americans take an interest in the game, it only stands to reason that they’d get more and more involved at every level.
Still, one’s eyebrow can’t help but raise when news broke that Deadpool, otherwise known as Blake Lively’s husband (fine, Ryan Reynolds), and “It’s Always Sunny” star Rob McElhenney are teaming up to buy Wrexham AFC in the northeast of Wales.
Wrexham is certainly a historic club, in that it’s the third-oldest professional club anywhere in the world, having established themselves in 1865. But beyond that, the club would struggle to be within a continent of the word “glamorous.”
Though in Wales, Wrexham are in the English league structure, and they are in the fifth division of it currently, otherwise known as “The National League,” which means at the moment they’re only semi-professional, and most of the players have side jobs to support themselves. They’ve been there since 2010, and the height of their recent history was a campaign in League One, the third tier, in 2004-2005.
That doesn’t mean Reynolds and McElhenney couldn’t do a world of good here. While Premier League and Championship clubs merely have to figure out how to deal with financial losses, lower league clubs in England and across Europe did not finish last season after the shutdown due to the pandemic. And as these are clubs that rely almost entirely on gate receipts, starting this season without fans doesn’t move them much further from peril than they already were. Macclesfield Town recently went bust for that very reason, and they very well might not be the last. So this Hollywood duo’s purchase of Wrexham very well could keep the club afloat.
Like a lot of industrial towns in the north of England and Wales, the town of Wrexham itself has seen its share of hard times through lack of investment and shifting production. As lowly as the club might be, it is something the town can rally around, which it doesn’t have a lot of.
The investment surely isn’t much for the two actors, which is reported to be just north of $2M. Reynolds and McElhenney haven’t popped up in Wales yet to outline their vision for the club, though that should be must-see TV.
The funniest part of this, and the one we simply have to hope is true, is that Reynolds might have been attracted to buying the club simply because of a joke tweet sent by two Wrexham college students eight years ago. It seems beyond the boundaries of any feasibility that two college girls merely dreaming of Reynolds showing up to their art class to be a nude model will lead to the local football club being saved, but this is 2020 and whenever we say “stranger things have happened” it’s usually an indication that something will push us ever closer to the seventh level of hell. So perhaps we should just relish, that for once, it might stand for something cute and happy.