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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Wrexham, Leverkusen Write Hollywood Stories

  • In two years the Welsh soccer club has now climbed from the fifth to the third tier of English soccer.
  • Meanwhile, Bundesliga has a new champion for the first time in over a decade.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

European soccer leagues are approaching the home stretches of their respective seasons, but already some clubs have accomplished significant on-field achievements that will lead to major financial gains. 

To the Stars

A victory on Saturday by Wrexham AFC—the Welsh club purchased by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in 2021 for $2.5 million—secured promotion for the second straight year, this time up to EFL League One. That’s the third tier of English soccer and just two steps away from reaching the Premier League.

The guaranteed payoff for Wrexham is modest but still significant for a club that sat in the fifth tier just two seasons ago. Automatic revenue distribution (combined from both the EFL and EPL) will jump from roughly $1.44 million to $2.15 million. In its most recent financial report, last month, Wrexham said annual income moving forward was projected to be sufficient to meet operational costs, despite reporting a loss of $6.36 million.

As the club keeps pushing toward the EPL, the FX series Welcome to Wrexham, now in its third season documenting the journey of Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, continues to be popular, particularly among fans in the U.S. Wrexham will make another U.S. tour this summer, with one match already scheduled against Chelsea at the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium in July. Meanwhile, Wrexham’s women’s side seeks to ride that American interest, with its first U.S. tour in the works.

New Kid on the Block

In Germany, the Bundesliga has a new champion as Bayer Leverkusen became the first club other than Bayern Munich to clinch the league title since Borussia Dortmund in 2012. 

Leverkusen’s first Bundesliga championship does come with a financial benefit. Clubs receive a weighted portion of league revenue, which last year totaled $4.45 billion, based largely on on-field performance over the past five years. And there could be more: Leverkusen heads into the quarterfinals of the UEFA Europa League as the betting favorites to win the competition and its roughly $9.15 million first-place prize.

An American Affair

Back in the U.K., two clubs owned by powerful American sports figures are in a three-horse race for the EPL title alongside three-time defending champion Manchester City with six matches remaining. Liverpool, owned by Boston Red Sox parent company Fenway Sports Group, and Arsenal, part of a Stan Kroenke sports empire that also includes the Los Angeles Rams, both sit two points behind Man City, which is the flagship club of the United Arab Emirates-controlled City Football Group.

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