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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Lights, Camera, Premier League: Wrexham’s Hollywood-Like Plan

  • The Welsh soccer club is being promoted to League One.
  • Plans are brewing to triple Wrexham’s stadium capacity.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Wrexham’s Hollywood owners have certainly opened up their wallets for the Welsh soccer club. But Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (above) have also been putting in time, effort, and hard work—and it’s paying off.

After earning promotion for the second straight year, Wrexham will bump up to League One this fall, which is the third tier of English soccer, two steps down from the club’s ultimate goal of the Premier League. To get there, and survive along the way, Reynolds and McElhenney know their club, the focal point of the popular FX series Welcome to Wrexham, has to keep growing on and off the pitch. 

That’s why the Racecourse Ground, where Wrexham plays its home matches, is adding seats, first going up from about 12,000 to 16,000, and then much, much more. “We have a plan in place right now that would eventually work from stand to stand, so eventually you get all four sides,” McElhenney said in an interview with Collider. “It’s hard to say for sure, but we think we could get between 45,000 and 55,000 people in there.” 

A venue of that size would put Wrexham on par with the likes of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium (55,000) and above Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge (40,000). “Like, the whole town could come to the game,” Reynolds quipped. According to a 2021 census, the population of Wrexham County Borough was estimated to be around 135,100.

The Next Domino

Substantial stadium expansion talk adds to other recent growth plans from Reynolds and McElhenney, including the announcement of a three-match North American tour for Wrexham this summer, the first international tour for the club’s women’s side, and the purchase of a minority stake in Liga MX team Club Necaxa—the initial step in creating a multiclub portfolio that Wrexham would be at the center of.

“Phase 1 of what we’re trying to do is probably coming to a close now,” Humphrey Ker, Wrexham’s executive director, said during an appearance on British show TalkSport. “And phase 2 is starting, and we’ve got to be on our game.”

That means a better scouting department, more sources of revenue, and a more refined technical staff, which Ker admitted Wrexham doesn’t have yet. “We’ve sort of bludgeoned our way out of the National League and out of League Two,” he said. “We went out and signed the best League One players that we could persuade to drop down to us.” 

Now, halfway to the Premier League, the challenge will be competing with more clubs that have bigger stadiums, larger fan bases, and a better on-field product. “We’re about to get into an environment where we won’t be the biggest fish in this pond,” Ker said.

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