Wrexham FC: why Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have bought the Welsh football club – and what is Aviation Gin?

Wrexham tweeted the new owners’ ‘mission statement’, which includes a pledge to ‘Always beat Chester’

Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have officially completed their takeover of National League football club, Wrexham.

The A-list duo’s takeover bid was approved in November 2020 following an in favour vote from over 2,000 members of the Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST), and the pair – under the RR McReynolds Company, LLC – have taken 100% control of the fifth-tier club.

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Onlookers will wonder why McElhenney and Reynolds, two famous faces known for not taking things all that seriously, have decided to make business moves on a lower-league Welsh football team that’s nowhere near as globally renowned as they are.

Rob McElhenney (L) and Ryan Reynolds announced their takeover of Wrexham football club with a humorous video extolling the virtues of club sponsor, Ifor Williams Trailers (Photos: Twitter/Wrexham AFC)
Rob McElhenney (L) and Ryan Reynolds announced their takeover of Wrexham football club with a humorous video extolling the virtues of club sponsor, Ifor Williams Trailers (Photos: Twitter/Wrexham AFC)

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How can our clubs do a Wrexham and woo Hollywood stars like Ryan Reynolds?

Here is everything you need to know.

Is the takeover real?

The whole thing sounds like an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the long-running comedy series that McElhenney created and stars in.

'You may never have heard of Wrexham, the Racecourse Ground or Ifor Williams, but you will' (Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

That show follows The Gang, a group of misfit friends who hatch elaborate schemes for personal gain, vengeance or the entertainment of watching another's downfall.

Even Deadpool-star Reynolds questioned the reality of the situation on Twitter, asking: “Is this really happening?”

But rest assured, it’s all entirely for real.

The entire sage has been told through the pair’s own brand of irreverent humour, and reflecting the completion of the deal, Deadpool star Reynolds changed his name on Twitter to Wryan, and McElhenney renamed himself as Wrob.

McElhenney tweeted: “The @Wrexham_AFC handover is complete! We’re toasting with a limited-edition bottle of @AviationGin and I am rebranding as Wrob. Both of which I am apparently legally obligated to do as I’ve been informed Ryan now owns my life rights. My lawyer is currently looking into it.”

What is Aviation Gin?

Aviation Gin is a gin brand co-owned by Reynolds since 2018.

In 2019, the company reported a 100 per cent growth in sales volumes as demand for super-premium gin continued to surge in the US.

Reynolds said at the time: “A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation Gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit. What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring.”

How was the news announced?

Wrexham tweeted the new owners’ ‘mission statement’, which read: “Invest in a permanent training facility.

“Explore the renovation of the Racecourse Ground.

“Always beat Chester.”

Last year, the pair announced the approval of their bid by making a spoof advert for club sponsors Ifor Williams Trailers.

“Why am I and Rob pitching a North Walian trailer manufacturer?” said Reynolds, to which McElhenney replied: “Because we just became owners of Wrexham Association Football Club and they are our team sponsors.

“You may never have heard of Wrexham, the Racecourse Ground or Ifor Williams, but you will. So to the Wrexham Supporters Trust, thank you for your faith and trust in us.”

Why Wrexham?

The news of a takeover bid first arose in late September, with Wrexham revealing that the duo had submitted their plans to purchase the club, although their reasons for doing so have not been made entirely clear.

Another clip posted to Twitter last year by the club posed the question “Why Wrexham?” before showing a selection of the victorious highlights from the club’s long and storied history. It simply ends by asking, “Why not?”

Reynolds and McElhenney had set out principles for their takeover centred around protecting the heritage of the Welsh club, reinforcing the values woven in the town itself and making Wrexham champions again.

The pair are understood to be prepared to use their own money, marketing and fame to help the side return to the glory days of the 1977-78 campaign, when they made it to the FA Cup quarter-finals and clinched the Third Division title.

What does it mean for the club?

Reynolds and Elhenney have already made a £2 million investment in the club – which has been in fan ownership since 2011 – under the terms of the deal; a Netflix-style documentary at the Racecourse Ground is also expected.

In a statement, the new owners said funds will be made available immediately and “first-team player identification will be a priority”. Further money will be spent to enhance the women’s football programme, community initiatives and the Racecourse Ground.

“Together with the players, the staff, the fans and the local community, we can now pursue our goal to grow the team and return it to the EFL in front of increased attendances, and in an improved stadium, while making a positive difference to the wider community in Wrexham,” they said.

In November, Reynolds and McElhenney presented their vision to trust members at a virtual meeting, telling them they wanted to attend as many games as possible and “have a pint with the fans”.

"You’ll be fed up of us!" said Reynolds. “We want to be great ambassadors for the club, to introduce the club to the world and be a global force."

McElhenney said: “We want to pack that stadium again. I want people to be so excited to watch the rise of the club… We should be thinking about Wrexham the way Manchester thinks about Manchester United."