What’s a sports lover to do when he’s got money burning a hole in his pocket? That seems to be impetus for actor Rob McElhenney (TV’s IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA) to express interest in buying Welsh association football club Wrexham AFC. But buying a sports franchise, even one as unprofitable as Wrexham, the third oldest professional football club in the world, is an expensive proposition even for a cable TV star, which is why McElhenney turned to Ryan Reynolds (RED NOTICE; FREE GUY; the DEADPOOL films) for a chunk of his superhero-sized cash. It was the first time the two actors had ever met and their journey together is chronicled in the curiously compelling 15-episode docuseries WELCOME TO WREXHAM.
For the uninitiated and untravelled, Wrexham is a small town (population: 65,000) located in northeast Wales. Once an industrial centre focussing on mining and steel production, the town fell on hard times with the closure of both the mines and the mills but it has since bounced back to some extent, reinventing itself as a high-tech manufacturing and financial services hub. The football club (yes, it’s called “football”, not “soccer”) was less fortunate. Over the years, owners made decisions that were not in the best interest of the club and the team’s fortunes declined to the point that it was relegated to the National League, which is the 5th tier of the English football league system. What’s “relegated”, you ask? Professional football has tiers? Don’t worry. WELCOME TO WREXHAM explains everything you need to know about football as well as some amusing Britishisms that the locals use in their everyday conversation. You might even learn some Welsh along the way. The Wrexhamites are also given the English subtitle treatment in case you can’t work out their accent. Either I’ve lived in Hong Kong so long or I’ve watched so many movies starring Anthony Hopkins or Richard Burton that I didn’t have a problem understanding what they were saying.
WELCOME TO WREXHAM is an interesting and surprisingly heartwarming watch though, even if your idea of football involves touchdowns and tailgate parties. You might just become a fan by the time the series ends, which is probably what McElhenney and Reynolds were hoping for when they came up with the idea for this series. As the bulk of the club’s revenue was coming from ticket sales, they pair knew that they had to look outward for additional sources of income. To that end, they signed up TikTok and Expedia as kit sponsors. (Kit sponsorship is explained too.) In a nod to McElhenney’s favourite American football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, Wrexham AFC’s away kit was changed to the Eagles’ shade of midnight green. It doesn’t seem to have been a hit with Wrexham fans, though, as the 2022/23 away colour has been changed to sky blue. Such are the challenges that the actors have to face as club owners. Throughout the series, local fans are interviewed on camera and two things are for sure: They are passionate about their team and they are fully supportive of the actors’ efforts to get their beloved club promoted to League Two and beyond.
WELCOME TO WREXHAM is currently streaming on FX-on-Hulu in the US and on Disney+ in the UK. Other countries will be announced shortly. Episodes 7 and 8 drop today (September 14). Will Wrexham’s fortunes finally turn around? Watch and find out!
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