Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds are used to being under the spotlight, but the American acting duo had to settle for Wrexham stealing the limelight.
The Welsh non-league team, acquired by the Hollywood pair in 2021, are now 750/1 outsiders to win the world’s oldest football cup competition after beating former FA Cup champions Coventry City.
Wrexham’s recent 4-3 away win booked the National League leaders a berth in the FA Cup 4th round for the first time since 2000.
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Premier League-chasing Sheffield United, who sent Newcastle crashing out of the competition, will visit the Racecourse Ground on 28 January for what could be exciting as a Hollywood blockbuster.
Wrexham are in the last 32 of the competition, with only half of the English Premier League sides remaining, although are underdogs compared to the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United with top Australian sports betting sites like bet365.
Wrexham being billed as FA Cup giant-killers is no fluke, because McElhenney and Reynolds are behind bringing the Hollywood effect to North Wales. It is staggering that the club has been languishing in England’s fifth division for 15 seasons.
The pair, who have heavily invested, are pushing ahead with a new 5,500-capacity stand and a training ground as well as buying players.
Their first full season in charge resulted in the Hollywood duo seeing Wrexham finish second, both in the league and in the FA Trophy. Yet everyone only really remembers the winner, so Wrexham’s co-owners have pushed for stardom by paying players double the average National League wage.
McElhenney and Reynolds are still behind the cameras with the football club, appearing in the hit access-all-areas docu-series Welcome to Wrexham. Season 1 scooped a critics’ choice accolade, with season 2 being filmed and negotiations underway for further seasons.
When McElhenney and Reynolds were negotiating a deal with the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust (WST), the club did not own the Racecourse Ground nor have a bespoke training ground.
The mission statement, once McElhenney and Reynold gained control, was to transform Wrexham into a global force. The side suffered a 1st round FA Cup knockout blow at Harrogate Town last year, but are now firing on all cylinders.
During last year’s winter transfer window, the Welsh wizards splashed six figure fees to land midfielder Tom O’Connor and striker Ollie Palmer.
Despite the wage bill having rocketed to £2.3million by the end of the season, from under £1m under the WST fan ownership, a stronger squad was necessary to tackle the 2022/23 campaign.
Tightening up at the back was a priority. Shotstopper Mark Howard arrived as Carlisle United’s Player of the Season in the summer. Anthony Forde, Jacob Mendy and Jordan Tunnicliffe have also worked wonders by plugging the defensive frailties.
Midfield has remained creative and solid, although Andy Cannon arrived in December from Championship outfit Hull City.
However, investment is not limited to playing staff with the co-owners ready to splash the cash for off-the-pitch facilities.
McElhenney enthused about the club’s ambitions to King Charles and the Queen Consort during last month’s visit to the Racecourse Ground. He also explained the redevelopment plans to increase the stadium capacity to 15,500.
The priority to overhaul the derelict Kop stand, left barren for almost 15 years, was brimming with delirious fans for one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of all time following Wrexham’s 1992 shock success over top-flight side Arsenal.
The Gunners arrived in North Wales having won the English First Division, while Wrexham had ended the season rock bottom of the old Fourth Division.
The Welsh minnows may have shocked the north London giants, but have not reached such heady heights for decades.
Now that the Hollywood duo have got the ball rolling there seems no reason why Wrexham cannot make a serious challenge to return to the top tier and play a starring role.
This season the club should be automatically promoted to League Two, and have a shot at making FA Cup progression. This is only the start for McElhenney and Reynolds in their long-term bid to put Wrexham back on the football map.
Those fans who have been faithfully following the team over the past decade or so must be pinching themselves. These Hollywood stars are not just dreaming of glory, they are beginning to deliver it with investment and hard work.
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