Wrexham AFC’s American owners are bringing a version of the team stateside for the first time in the club’s 159-year history — and they’ll have the chance to take a $1 million prize back to Wales.
The Soccer Tournament — the 7-on-7, winner-take-all competition from TBT Enterprises — has accepted Wrexham to play at the event in Cary, North Carolina, from June 1-4.
“Wrexham AFC is an incredible story showcasing the experience that can unfold when fans, players and owners are equally committed to the Club and the community,” TST founder and CEO Jon Mugar said in a statement. “We are proud to welcome the entire Wrexham AFC family to the US and TST to watch the Club compete in our electrifying format.”
Wrexham — most notably owned by Hollywood staples Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds — are the ninth team that has been publicly announced for the 32-team field. Previously announced teams include:
- Team Dempsey, organized by USMNT legend Clint Dempsey
- Hashtag United, a semi-professional club founded by YouTuber Spencer Owen
- Liga MX side Club Necaxa
- US Women, a team of former USWNT players organized by Heather O’Reilly
Though only nine teams are publicly known, TBT Enterprises says that all but one of the 32 slots have been filled for TST — and the final slot will be auctioned off in March.
Wrexham’s TST squad consists of club legends — some of whom have featured in FX’s “Welcome to Wrexham” like Paul Rutherford, who featured prominently early in the show.
However, Wrexham advisor to the board Shaun Harvey tells Front Office Sports that the club’s first team plans to make its American debut as part of preseason this summer.
For now, the club will be content to dip its toes in the American waters with TST — a competition that presents an excellent opportunity for the club’s domestic and international goals.
“You can be popular away from home, but actually you need to ensure you remain very popular at home,” Harvey told FOS. “The TST tournament is one easy way of us being able to actually achieve both objectives at the same time.”
That’s because, at the behest of McElhenney and Reynolds, the club plans to use $500,000 of the $1 million grand prize to “enhance the Club’s work in the local community” should it win.
It’s all part of the pair’s mission of enhancing the club and its community — and preserving its authenticity.
“Nothing’s changed at the football club in terms of what the football club is. It’s still a small club in North Wales that enjoys its support from the local community,” says Harvey. “Rob and Ryan have given the football club the opportunity to reach its full potential that somebody without their profiles may never have been able to unlock.
“They want to move into the world of the club, the life of the club, rather than the club becoming part of their world.”
Wrexham have seen an enormous boost under the McElhenney-Reynolds ownership, currently sitting atop the National League table with the chance to be promoted to EFL League Two. They are the lowest-tier team currently remaining in the FA Cup.