McReynolds Announcement Stuns Town: The news that Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds are the new owners of Wrexham AFC has hit the town like a hurricane. As soon as the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust announced the decision, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram erupted with comments, memes and Gifs. The by-now-famous Ifor Williams Trailer video has only served to increase the anticipation further.
So after all the dust has settled and the euphoria has died down, what will be left?
Massive expectation, that’s for sure. Reynolds is a bonafide Hollywood A-lister riding high on the two Deadpool movies which earned a combined world box-office of US$1.57 billion (£1.18 billion). The second Deadpool film alone is now the highest-grossing X-Men related film of all time! McElhenney is no slouch either when it comes to star power. He’s had a starring role in The Sun Always Shines In Philadelphia since 2005 and is the driving force behind the TV series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
If reports are accurate, they’re going to make sure they have a hands-on approach when it comes to Wrexham AFC. ABC News in Australia reported Reynolds as saying “We want to have a pint with the fans,” adding he and McElhenney intended to be “great ambassadors for the club” and to “introduce the club to the world”. Encouraging, indeed.
What Is This Going to Mean for the Town, However?
We can expect home attendances to increase (when the fans can go back to the stadium). Wrexham AFC’s average gate for before the stadium lockdown was just over 4,000 of the approximately 10,000 capacity. However, plans were already afoot for a complete redevelopment of the stadium. Back in June, we had a significant announcement regarding the demolition of the Kop with a new 5,000 seater stand to replace it. That would increase the capacity of the stadium to around 15,000 – comparable to most League One stadia.
You can read the article on the Leader website at leaderlive.co.uk. The local talk is that the project will still go ahead despite the new money coming in.
If I may borrow a small part of the fascinating article Ian King wrote on the takeover back in September, it helps put a lot of the proposed move into a proper context.
“Reynolds and McElhenney have offered £2m in investment into the club and the benefits of such an arrangement to the club should be obvious. A couple of million pounds of investment in the National League would be substantial at the best of times.
Shiny New Players
“It may be that any investment might go towards keeping the club afloat rather than on buying shiny new players. All National League clubs are in the same boat at the moment, however. And that £2m would likely give the club a competitive advantage over everybody in the division, regardless of when things get back to normal.
“There aren’t going to be any other National League clubs getting £2m thrown at them any time soon, that much we can say with a degree of confidence. The promise of investment isn’t a short cut to success in itself, however. We must spend the money wisely.
“That means the project must involve people who know what they’re doing. Additionally, it’s likely that within the next couple of seasons, they will have to be working within the confines of a salary cap of around £900,000 a year. This limit is in effect following National League discussions held this summer.
“On the 7th August, Wrexham manager Dean Keates was very much in favour of such a cap. One wonders how far the opinions of Keates and others might have shifted on this particular subject over the last few weeks, however.
“Several fan-owned clubs have sold up to private investors in recent years with mixed results. Wycombe Wanderers’ ascent to the EFL Championship means that their supporters are likely to be happy with their choice. Portsmouth, however, not so happy – they won the League Two title in 2017 under mutual ownership and sold up that summer to former Disney executive Michael Eisner. However, they have fallen just short of another promotion every year since.
“The sale of Notts County by their Supporters Trust in 2010 very nearly led to the death of the club. Ten years on, Notts, who were one of the twelve founder members of the Football League, are another National League club with aspirations of reclaiming their former status.”
His final word is quite sobering, but immensely positive: “It is worth remembering two important things. Firstly, that the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust saved Wrexham AFC when it needed saving. The Trust achieved a degree of success and were unlucky to find their best season coinciding with Fleetwood’s. And secondly, if Wrexham Supporters Trust weren’t the owners of the club, their supporters wouldn’t even have a say in who the club’s new owners might be.”
The increased attendances will have a positive effect on the bars and restaurants in towns as more people will be dining and drinking before and after matches. There will be an increased “curiosity value” in the town as people come to explore and see what has attracted such high-profile owners. This influx of people will lead to more business for shops and cafés in the area as well. There could be a snowball effect of money attracting more money if the club becomes successful over the next few seasons. Consequently, this growth would almost certainly mean more investment in the town centre and surrounding areas. Especially as people start to see the county as a more attractive place to settle or place a business.
There has already been a mini-revival of sorts in the last year in the town centre. We’ve seen Xplore! (https://www.xplorescience.co.uk/) Sports Direct and the new Hope Street Church appear in the town centre. There have been new restaurants and bars opening on High Street (Frisky Pudding, Belushimo, Ted’s) and Hill Street (Hill Street Social). And don’t forget Chapter Court, which we will be talking about in this magazine very soon. All these projects could soon have others joining them making the centre of town even more of a magnet for shoppers and revellers.
I’ll leave the final word to ‘john@wrexhamafc’. He posted a comment on Twitter that has stuck with me:
“Owners come and go, we’ll always be here. And success would be such a fantastic reward for those young fans who have never even seen us as a league team, but have yet continued to follow the Club. They can then have their own memories of the mighty Town and not get bored with the tales of the 70’s from us oldies! C’mon the Town!” We hope you enjoyed ‘McReynolds Announcement Enraptures Town’.
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