It seemed unlikely at first mention and the story has not grown any less far-fetched since, but that is not preventing Wrexham AFC fans from revelling in their moment in the limelight. Carole Williams, a director of the firm that sponsors the National League club, put it most succinctly: “The whole community is enthusiastic after hearing that a little bit of Hollywood magic might be about to touch North Wales.”
The Hollywood magic in question comes in the form of actor/producers Ryan Reynolds, of Deadpool fame, and Rob McElhenney, best known for the television series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And the injection of £2m that is being confidently anticipated is not for the rights to Mickey Thomas’s life story but an investment into the ailing club, struggling like every other lower-league outfit at the moment through empty grounds caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Wrexham have been fan-owned since 2011, and when the Supporters Trust Board revealed the identity of their prospective new backers this week the membership voted by an impressive 97% for talks to proceed. “In due course Mr McElhenney and Mr Reynolds will put forward their vision for Wrexham FC for members to vote on at a second Special General meeting,” a club statement said.
Discussions are clearly at an early stage, though the Hollyood pair – McElhenney is American, Reynolds Canadian – have confirmed via Twitter that they are interested in Wrexham. Why that should be is a matter for another day – Hartlepool supporters are reacting furiously to unconfirmed rumours that the two actors looked at their club first but were not encouraged to proceed – but for now there is a fairy-tale element to the development that has put a spring in the step of everyone connected with the oldest club in Wales and their historic home.
The captain Shaun Pearson summed up the general feeling very well. “I’m probably similar to everyone else; at first you think: ‘Nah, no way,’” the defender said. “But it is potentially a big opportunity for the club. It is probably a little while off in terms of everything going through, but you’d be lying if you didn’t think it was exciting. This is something that could move the club forward in quite a big way.”
When Wrexham talk of moving forward, they mean back into the Football League, where they once climbed as high as the old second division before dropping out in 2008. A much-loved club famous for any number of cup runs at home and abroad have been in the financial doldrums for the past decade, but supporters now see hope on the horizon.
Lifelong fan Matt Smith said: “This could be a game-changer for us if it helps us achieve the Holy Grail of getting back into the league. We obviously need to learn more about their plans and vision for the club but at the moment this just sounds incredible.” Club sponsor Williams, of Ifor Williams Trailers, added: “Wrexham is a proper football town, attracting loyal support from North Wales and across the world. This is extremely exciting news.”
Trust Board director Spencer Harris suggested the next meeting and vote could take place in weeks rather than months. “We are community owned and therefore this has become public knowledge a little bit earlier than it would have done in normal circumstances, but it’s out there now and people know all about it,” he said.
“We have been talking through representatives and we are now in a position, following the vote on Tuesday, to get into detailed discussions about what a takeover deal could look like. I have spoken to both men and they are serious professionals, not just in acting but in the business world as well, successful people who I’m sure would have a lot to bring to any business. I think we might have seen them at the Racecourse Ground by now but for Covid-19. We are a club with a proud history and a lot of potential, so why not?”