Some of you may know the story of Wrexham AFC, a football club in Wales purchased by Canadian actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds. Wrexham played in the lowest division of English football. After the purchase, the two actors made a documentary called Welcome to Wrexham that streams on Hulu. The documentary chronicles the story of these two men who have never worked together, buying a team in a sport that they know nothing about. What could go wrong.
My initial take on this story was that it was the typical story of rich people buying new toys. But my opinion has changed because of their approach and the result. After the team won its game on April 22, it earned a promotion to the second lowest division. Their goal is to keep improving and eventually get to the Premier League, which would be an unbelievable accomplishment.
In an NPR interview, McElhenney noted that he knew he couldn’t afford to purchase a Premier League level club but that he and Reynolds came up with the concept of identifying a club in a lower division at an attractive valuation and develop a business plan for how to move up in the divisions.
While the headlines are about wealthy actors buying a down-and-out football club, the deeper story is about all the kinds of investment made by the new owners. McElhenney and Reynolds not only put in the funds to purchase the club, they also added funds to revitalize the stadium and the brand as well as getting better players. Moreover, they spent time in Wrexham getting to know the community and building personal relationships. The payoff has been a successful season and move to the new division, a growing fan base beyond the confines of Wrexham, and more opportunities in Wrexham for all types of businesses and for the community.
As I thought about their overall investment in Wrexham, I saw the similarity in how we nurture our personal relationships. Those require investments as well. In relationships, the currency is our care, vulnerability, and communication. We all know that we don’t just make the investment at the beginning, but we have to make ongoing investments of time and commitment to nurture, build and keep the relationship strong. However, as I noted to my wife, Jen, my goal is not to move up to a new division.
Take care and stay safe.
Welcome to Wrexham (Hulu)
In "Welcome to Wrexham," Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds learn to run the third oldest professional football club in the world. In 2020, Rob and Ryan teamed up to purchase the fifth tier Red Dragons in the hope of turning Wrexham AFC into an underdog story the whole world can root for, but the concern is that neither have any experience in football or working with each other. From Hollywood to Wales, from the pitch to the locker room, and the front office to the pub, the docuseries will track Rob and Ryan's crash course in football club ownership and the inextricably connected fates of a team and a town counting on two actors to bring some serious hope and change to a community that could use it.