Viva Las Wrexham: Hollywood-Backed British Soccer Team Heading to Las Vegas
Wrexham AFC, the Welsh soccer team owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, flew the squad to Las Vegas this week in celebration of its promotion from the fifth tier of English soccer.
The celebrity owners promised a “monster party” to the squad if they achieved promotion. Wrexham surpassed that expectation by winning promotion via a first-place finish in the National League, four points ahead of its nearest competitor, Notts County.
Earlier in the week, some 40,000 fans (roughly one third of the entire town) packed the streets of Wrexham to celebrate the win, with both celebrity owners in attendance. Now the players have made it to America’s gambling capital, Las Vegas, where they will spend the week partying it up with Reynolds and McElhenney.
“Ryan and Rob told us to leave our cards at home, they’re sorting the lot,” said Wrexham’s star striker, Paul Mullin.
Wrexham Association Football Club is the third-oldest continuously running Association Football (or soccer) club in the world, having been founded in 1864. That’s only behind division rivals Notts County and English team Sheffield F.C.
However, venerable age has not equated to success on the pitch over the past few decades.
The club has been playing in the lower tiers of British football since 2008, when it dropped out of the professional Football League structure because of league placings and financial administration.
That has all changed since Reynolds and McElhenney bought the club in 2021 in a $2 million deal. Since then, the extra investment and international attention has been enough to turn around Wrexham’s fortunes on the pitch.
They became the first nonprofessional league team to be included in the globally popular FIFA games franchise in 2022, and now they have officially regained professional Football League status.
This week’s final 1-1 draw away to already relegated Torquay United was enough to secure the National League title with a record 111 points.
Buzzing For It
Wrexham’s talismanic striker Mullin scored an impressive 46 goals for the season, and he was looking forward to celebrating the team’s achievements during its Las Vegas trip.
“Part of me doesn’t want to go. I might be dead by the end of it. But I’d never go to Vegas by me own accord, so I’m buzzing for it,” he said.
“I don’t think my partner is too happy about it. But if the owners tell you you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.”
Mullin has previously notched up a strong goal tally at Cambridge United, who were then two leagues above Wrexham.
However, the allure of Hollywood owners and a Disney+ TV series following the team, plus Wrexham being his hometown, convinced Mullin to take a temporary step down.
The striker may enjoy his Las Vegas trip more than others in the team, having recently told GQ magazine that one of his favorite songs is “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.
In addition to this well-deserved Las Vegas trip for the squad, Wrexham AFC will be returning to the US for a tour of exhibition matches in July.
The Red Dragons will play Major League Soccer reserve team L.A Galaxy II, as well as fellow British visitors Manchester United and Chelsea, plus another unconfirmed team.
McElhenney and Reynolds have further aspirations for Wrexham after this promotion. Their ultimate aim for the team is the bright lights of the English Premier League, one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world.
With three more promotions needed before then, that goal is some way off. However, with a Hollywood story like this already in progress – who can really chalk it up as impossible?