Football/Soccer

Dragons revitalised under Hollywood owners – Wrexham keep making the headlines

Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over Wrexham two years ago (Peter Byrne/PA)
Phil Blanche, PA

National League Wrexham visit Sheffield United on Tuesday as the lowest ranked side left in this season’s FA Cup.

The Welsh outfit, co-owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, will secure a lucrative fifth-round home tie with Tottenham by winning their Bramall Lane replay.

Here, the PA news agency looks at a club who are making headlines on and off the pitch.

The owners

Wrexham v Torquay United – Vanarama National League – Racecourse Ground
Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over Wrexham two years ago (Peter Byrne/PA)

Wrexham were starting a 12th season in the fifth tier of English football when Reynolds and McElhenney announced their intention to buy Wales’ oldest club in September 2020. Deadpool actor Reynolds – one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator McElhenney completed their £2million takeover from the Wrexham Supporters Trust the following February and life in north Wales has never been the same since.

The impact

Heavy investment has transformed Wrexham from National League stragglers into serious promotion contenders. The Dragons lost a semi-final play-off to Grimsby last season after finishing runners-up to Stockport. They are currently battling with Notts County for the one automatic-promotion spot, three points behind the Magpies but with two games in hand, and dreaming of FA Cup glory.

The profile

The fly-on-the-wall ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary aired on American TV channel FX last year and introduced the club – owners, management, players and fans – to an international audience. The show was warmly received and Wrexham’s profile is now so great that their FA Cup tie against Sheffield United was the most followed football game that day across ESPN’s website and digital platforms in the US.

The manager

Phil Parkinson file photo
Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson has spent two decades in football management (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Phil Parkinson has spent two decades as a manager and Wrexham is his seventh club. The 55-year-old has managed Colchester, Hull, Charlton, Bradford – whom he guided to the League Cup final in 2013 – Bolton and Sunderland. Parkinson has won promotions at Colchester, Bradford and Bolton.

The players

Wrexham v Sheffield United – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – The Racecourse Ground
Paul Mullin has proved a scoring sensation since dropping down two leagues to join Wrexham in 2021 (Peter Byrne/PA)

Striker Paul Mullin is Wrexham’s main man, scoring 57 goals in 73 games since being persuaded to leave Cambridge and drop down two leagues in July 2021. Ben Tozer, Callum McFadzean, Elliot Lee and Ollie Palmer also supply plenty of Football League experience, while Wrexham have signed Irish defender Eoghan O’Connell from Charlton since the Racecourse tie against Sheffield United.