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Wrexham secured promotion to the fourth tier of English soccer on Saturday, achieving the first part of the dream of celebrity owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
The Hollywood actors were among a crowd of more than 10,000 at the Racecourse Ground in north Wales to see Wrexham clinch the National League title with a 3-1 win over Boreham Wood.
Reynolds and McElhenney seemingly have become soccer fanatics since completing their out-of-nowhere purchase of the Welsh club for $2.5 million in 2021.
An offshoot of the takeover was the making of a fly-on-the-wall documentary — entitled Welcome to Wrexham — which has charted the journey of a historic but down-on-its-luck soccer team run by two actors learning the ropes of sports club ownership.
The second season of the show will have a happy ending, with Wrexham heading back into the English Football League — the three divisions below the Premier League — for the first time in 15 years.
Wrexham is four points clear of second-placed Notts County with one round of games left, so is guaranteed the sole automatic promotion spot to League Two.
Among the spectators at the Racecourse was Paul Rudd, another Hollywood actor who was spotted drinking a beer with locals, and watched the game in the directors’ box with Reynolds and McElhenney, who was reduced to tears at the final whistle.
Reynolds is best known for starring in the Deadpool movies, while McElhenney is the creator of TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. One of their stated aims when buying Wrexham from the club’s fans was to lead the 158-year-old club — the world’s third oldest professional club — to the Premier League and the journey is well underway.
It is Wrexham’s first league title at any level since the old Division Three — then the third tier in the English game — in 1977, and the team has done it in style, collecting a record 110 points so far and winning 34 of its 45 games.
And, as has so often been the case with the club, the win was achieved the hard way after falling behind inside 44 seconds.
Wrexham equalized in the 15th minute then Paul Mullin, the team’s star striker, earned the victory with two superbly taken goals in the second half.
With the title in the bag, Wrexham fans lapped up the final few minutes of the match that ended more than a decade of hurt. The club fell on such hard times since the turn of the century that its supporters’ trust twice had to save the team from going out of business.
Since their unlikely takeover, Reynolds (21 million) and McElhenney (1 million) have used their large Twitter followings to promote the club and brought in sponsors such as TikTok, Aviation Gin and Expedia — global brands that typically have no place at this level of the game.
The actors are also living up to the promises they made when taking over, like making improvements to the stadium and investing heavily in the women’s team. They brought in board members and advisers with experience of top-level soccer and who have made good, sensible decisions.
The industrial town of about 65,000 people, located near the northwest English border and close to the soccer hotbeds of Liverpool and Manchester, has been abuzz with excitement for the past two years.
Last season, Wrexham lost in the playoffs to miss out on promotion but made no mistake a year later to get out of the non-leagues, where some teams are semi-professional.
Wrexham finished the game to a backdrop of fans joyously singing “We are going up” – with Reynolds and McElhenney joining in.
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