Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds: They have never met but they own Wrexham



A Hollywood script along similar lines might be laughed out of Tinseltown.

A famous actor with a soft spot for the spirit-lifting romance and bitter disappointment of sport is inspired to buy a club by a Netflix fly-on-the-wall football documentary.

What is more, he manages to persuade an even more famous actor to join him.

And, oh, they have never actually met.

If the takeover of National League club Wrexham by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds still seems somewhat far-fetched, the tale of how it came about takes this narrative to another level.

Speaking to Radio 5 Live’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark show, McElhenney was asked how his wife Caitlin responded when he told her he wanted to buy a football club.

“I remember the moment. I was sitting on the couch, I was watching Sunderland ‘Til I Die. And I was falling in love with this team and these people and the story,” said McElhenney.

“In all honesty it was the first time I had understood the concept of promotion and relegation. I didn’t know that that’s how the system worked.

“So I opened my computer and just started Google-searching promotion and relegation. I recognised that if you can get relegated, of course then you can also get promoted.

“Then I looked up how many leagues there are and realising there are five leagues with the National League included… that if you could ostensibly go down, you could go up.

“So even though I couldn’t afford to buy say Liverpool or Sunderland for that matter or Man City, Man U, maybe we could afford to buy a lower-league team and have them ascend through the ranks.

“And maybe there are a lot of clubs that might be in trouble because of Covid. Then I just looked up at her and said ‘I think I want to buy a football team’.

“It was all within like 20 minutes. She was like ‘okay’. And I said ‘no I think I am going to do this’, and she was like ‘okay’.”

As McElhenney’s ambition took hold, he wondered if he could persuade Reynolds to join in, despite only being acquainted via modern technology.

“The weird thing is I have known Ryan for years but I have never met him,” explained McElhenney.

“We are just text buddies. He lives in New York, I live out here (in Los Angeles).

“He is on movie sets all over the world. We met on social media. One time I looked in my Instagram DMs (direct messages) and he had DM’d me.

“From that point forward we became friends and we would just text each other every once in a while.

“Then I was in the shower and I was thinking, you know he is super entrepreneurial, I wonder if he would be into coming in with me as a full partner, because he could really raise the exposure of this thing exponentially.

“I got out of the shower and I said to Caitlin, ‘what if I ask Ryan to be a full partner, do you think he would do it?’.

“She said ‘I guess that depends whether or not your ego can take sharing the screen with Ryan Reynolds’.”

That response prompted McElhenney to “furiously” send Reynolds an email.

“He just said ‘I’m in, call me’,” said McElhenney.

“I never thought I would be the guy who was on the edge of my seat screaming in joy for a 0-0 draw. I have found myself doing that.

“We are in play-off contention. We only have a few more games left. If we win out we are in, but if we draw out there is a potential that we are still in.”

‘We’re stewards, not owners’

If the manner in which McElhenney and Reynolds took over Wrexham was unorthodox, they plan to be “as authentic as possible” when it comes to running the club.

Amid the continuing fall-out from the failed bid by some of Europe’s leading clubs to form a Super League, McElhenney’s words might be a source of comfort for many football fans.

“Look what happened with the Super League,” said McElhenney. “That was misstep after misstep after misstep and people let them know very quickly how they felt about it.

“The word owner as it pertains to a football club makes no sense to me.

“I don’t understand how I, an American who was born in 1977 in Philadelphia, could own a football club that was born in the middle 1800s in Wrexham, Wales. It doesn’t make any sense.

“The way that I approach is that we are stewards of the club. I like the title chairman much better than I like the title owner because I truly can’t own that. The town owns that.

“Our job is to come in as chairmen and to help facilitate the success so that the town can continue to flourish, the team can continue to flourish, and they can have success long after we’re gone and there are new chair people that take over.”

In the meantime, amid the coronavirus pandemic, McElhenney has yet to see Wrexham play, perhaps leaving the prospect of a tantalising Hollywood ending to his digital bromance with Reynolds.

After all, there is an obvious setting for the scene in which they meet for the first time: watching Wrexham play at the Racecourse.



BBC News