Ryan Reynolds’ and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham AFC is coming to Las Vegas. Fresh from securing promotion from the semi-professional National League, the fifth tier of English soccer, the team boarded a flight for America’s gambling capital Wednesday.
It’s part of an all-expenses trip laid on as a show of gratitude by the club’s celebrity owners. And it comes just two days after 40,000 fans lined the streets of Wrexham, an unglamorous city in northeast Wales, to give the players a hero’s welcome at an open-top bus parade.
Wrexham Hits Big
Formed in 1864, Wrexham is the third-oldest soccer team in the world. But it has languished in the doldrums of the National League for 15 years.
Its surprise acquisition by two Hollywood actors in 2021 — and their subsequent investment — has completely transformed the fortunes of what was a largely forgotten soccer team. It has also made it an unlikely TV star through the Disney+ documentary Welcome to Wrexham.
On April 29, Wrexham finished top of the National League, four points ahead of Notts County. Oddly enough, the second-place finisher is the oldest soccer team in the world, predating Wrexham by two years. Just another legendary, long-forgotten club wondering when their Hollywood A-listers will step in to save it.
Google Trends, a service that compares searches across Google, suggests that internet users’ interest in Wrexham has surpassed that of the entire MLS at many points this year.
In mid-April, Wrexham goalkeeper Ben Foster told CBS that Reynolds and McElhenney had promised the team a “monster party,” somewhere with “flashing lights,” if they won promotion. The boys delivered, and images of them boarding a flight to Las Vegas were splashed across the media outlets this morning.
US Tour Lined Up
Wrexham striker Paul Mullin, who scored an incredible 46 goals during the season, told the Footballers’ Football podcast last week his partner was not “too happy” about the Las Vegas junket.
“But if the owners tell you you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go,” he added.
Wrexham will return to the US in June to play a tour of four exhibition matches against LA Galaxy II, Manchester United, Chelsea, and another unconfirmed team – an additional perk of its newfound celebrity status. And the way Chelsea are playing at the moment, who knows?
Win or lose, Wrexham is a team that is going places. Reynolds and McElhenney told Welsh-language broadcaster S4C this week that their ultimate goal is to reach the Premier League, even if it takes 20 years.
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