After just two seasons, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s purchase of the underdog Welsh soccer team Wrexham AFC has paid off with a National League championship and promotion to the English Football League. Now it’s time for Reynolds to make some eBay money with his players’ jerseys.
After Wrexham defeated Boreham Wood 3-1 to secure the league championship, Reynolds crashed the postgame press conference with the team’s star goalkeeper Ben Foster.
“Foster!” Reynolds yelled as he waded through the reporters, “Jersey, now!”
“It stinks, honestly!” Foster replied with a grin. “It absolutely stinks!”
When asked by a reporter if he was going to sell Foster’s shirt online, Reynolds stuffed the jersey into the back of his pants and said, “Listen, I work in show business, we fall on hard times!” before scampering off.
“He texted me earlier! He’s so hungry for the shirt! He’s like, ‘Don’t throw that into the crowd. I need that,’” Foster said.
Turning his attention back to the reporters, Foster spoke in glowing terms about Reynolds and McElhenney and what “brilliant” owners they have been.
“They’re in. They’re fully in. They’re like one of the boys at times,” he said. “They come in and celebrate and get behind the lads because they understand that you’re not always going to win. You’re not always going to get things ten out of ten…they don’t expect instant results.”
As told in the Hulu docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham,” Reynolds was brought on as co-owner of Wrexham AFC by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Rob McElhenney, a rabid sports fan who heard about the struggles that the team was facing after years of mismanagement by uncaring ownership sent the team’s fortunes plummeting.
For 87 years, Wrexham AFC had played in what is now known as the English Football League, which today makes up the three tiers of the English soccer pyramid below the top-tier Premier League. But in 2008, the team was relegated to the National League, the fifth tier of the pyramid and the lowest-tiered professional league.
With only two teams able to earn promotion back to the EFL each year, it is very difficult for teams that fall to the National League to win their way back up the pyramid. For Wrexham, the struggle was worsened by mismanagement from uncaring owners. Even when the fans were able to take ownership of the team through a supporters’ trust in 2011, the team lacked the finances to field a truly competitive team or renovate its crumbling stadium.
Wrexham was even on the verge of being relegated out of the National League and into a lower-tier, semi-pro league in 2020, but were saved when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the season short with Wrexham sitting one place above the bottom three teams in the league.
But in just two years, Reynolds and McElhenney’s ownership has yielded upset victories in the FA Cup and has now brought Wrexham’s decade-and-a-half exile from the EFL to an end. Next fall, Wrexham will play in EFL League Two, where promotion spots to EFL League One are automatically given to the top three teams at the end of the season while teams that finish in fourth through seventh place enter a playoff for the final promotion spot.
But for now, Reynolds is just soaking in the moment.
“Everything I own smells like champagne, beer and grass. I’m still somewhere between giggling and sobbing,” he tweeted. “This town and this sport is one of the most romantic things on earth. Thank you, Wrexham AFC.”
Watch Reynolds snatch Ben Foster’s jersey in the video above, courtesy of The Guardian.