Ryan Reynolds Wrexham takeover: A potted history of sport’s celebrity owners


Rob McElhenney (left) and Ryan Reynolds
Rob McElhenney (left) and Ryan Reynolds are proposing to invest £2m in Wrexham

Even in a year as wildly unpredictable as 2020, the story of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney looking to invest in non-league football club Wrexham has been one to prompt double-takes of wide-eyed wonder.

Deadpool actor Reynolds and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s McElhenney have been revealed as the two people behind the takeover bid for the historic Welsh club, once regulars of European competition but languishing in the fifth tier of English football since 2008.

Reynolds and McElhenney are not the first Hollywood A-listers to show an interest in Welsh club football. Mindy Kaling, star of The Mindy Project and the American version of the Office, is a Swansea City shareholder, while Mulholland Drive and King Kong actress Naomi Watts is the honorary president of amateur Anglesey club Glantraeth.

And beyond Wales, Reynolds and McElhenney could be about to join a grand tradition of celebrities investing in sports clubs around the world.

MLS and its galaxy of stars

Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell has starred in several hit films including Zoolander and Step Brothers

As the home of Hollywood, it is no surprise that Los Angeles Football Club – better known as LAFC – have some of the most glamorous owners in Major League Soccer.

Founded in 2014, the original consortium backing the franchise included basketball legend Magic Johnson and United States football great Mia Hamm.

Then in 2016, comedy actor Will Ferrell was announced as a co-owner.

LAFC played their first MLS match in 2018, forming a rivalry with neighbours LA Galaxy.

And with Anchorman and Elf lead man Ferrell often cheering them on at their Banc of California Stadium home, LAFC have more star quality than most.

However, the Black and Gold are not the only MLS franchise with celebrity support.

Former England captain David Beckham, who spent five years with LA Galaxy after glittering spells with Manchester United and Real Madrid, founded his own club, Inter Miami, in 2018.

Inter Miami played their first match earlier this year and they have already made some statement signings, including former Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain and ex-Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

From the south east to the north west of the US, MLS is awash with big-name backers.

Last year, Super Bowl winner Russell Wilson, his Grammy award-winning singer and wife Ciara and rapper Macklemore joined the ownership group of Seattle Sounders.

And the Sounders’ assistant coach? None other than former Liverpool defender Djimi Traore.

Russell Wilson and Ciara
Ciara’s hits include ‘Goodies’ and ‘1, 2 Step’, while her husband Russell Wilson is Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback

English football’s glitterati

While American celebrities have flocked to MLS franchises in recent years, the great and good of British showbusiness have long held interests in English football.

Perhaps the most famous of all is singer Sir Elton John, who became chairman of his boyhood club Watford in 1976 and oversaw a golden period during which the Hornets rose from the old Fourth Division to the First Division in just four years.

Having sold his controlling stake in the club in 1990, John remained involved at Vicarage Road and returned as chairman in 1997 before stepping down in 2002.

If rock is more your scene, you might be interested to know that Robert Plant, vocalist of the legendary Led Zeppelin, has been a vice president of Wolverhampton Wanderers since 2009.

Robert Plant
Robert Plant played in former Wolves defender Jody Craddock’s testimonial match in 2014

The 72-year-old has been watching Wolves since he was five years old, saying he was hooked after the great Billy Wright waved at him during his first match as a spectator at Molineux.

Norwich City are another club who enjoy celebrity support.

Cook and television presenter Delia Smith is a majority shareholder, who provided a memorable moment at half-time in a home match against Manchester City in 2005 when she grabbed a microphone on the pitch and implored the club’s fans to make more noise with the now famous quote: “Where are you? Where are you? Let’s be ‘avin’ you!” Norwich lost the match 3-2.

Actor, presenter and author Stephen Fry is also a member of the Norwich board of directors.

‘Are you not entertained?’

Russell Crowe
South Sydney Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe won the 2001 Best Actor Academy Award for Gladiator

Actor Russell Crowe has taken on some imposing roles over the course of his career, from the epic Gladiator to the deep psychological trauma of A Beautiful Mind.

The Oscar winner also seems to relish onerous tasks away from the screen, judging by his decision to become co-owner of National Rugby League side South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Despite an illustrious history, the Rabbitohs were mired in financial trouble during the early 2000s and excluded from the NRL before they were reinstated in 2002.

They struggled for their first few years back but, under Crowe’s stewardship, the Rabbitohs signed world-class players such as Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess and went on to be crowned NRL winners in 2014 and world champions a year later.

From Hollywood to Bollywood, sport seems to hold an enduring appeal for actors.

The immense wealth of the Indian Premier League has transformed cricket worldwide, and much of the money behind the 20-over competition comes from famous sources.

Actor Shah Rukh Khan, known as the King of Bollywood, is a co-owner of two-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders, who have England captain Eoin Morgan in their squad for this year’s tournament and count Ricky Ponting and Chris Gayle among their former players.

The actress Shilpa Shetty, who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, is a former co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals, whose 2020 squad is captained by Australia batsman Steve Smith and also features England’s Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer.

Cricket has also caught the eye of celebrity investors outside India.

In 2013, actor Mark Wahlberg bought a stake in the Barbados Tridents after he was introduced to the sport by Ajmal Khan, the club’s chairman and Caribbean Premier League founder.

There were a few raised eyebrows when Wahlberg described himself as a “huge cricket fan” – but perhaps no more than when Reynolds decided he wanted to buy Wrexham.



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