Nov 17, 2020 - Sports

Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buy a soccer team

Illustration of a soccer cleat kicking a film reel

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have teamed up to acquire fifth-division English soccer team, Wrexham AFC, one of the oldest clubs in the world.

Why it matters: The two actors have promised to invest at least $2.64 million and plan to use their own stardom — plus a documentary series — to promote the club globally and hopefully take it to new heights.

The big picture: Reynolds and McElhenney appear to be banking on the growing demand for soccer content. In recent years, Netflix and Amazon have produced a wide range of documentary series about European clubs, including:

The intrigue: These "Hard Knocks"-style shows could work for any sport, but soccer's global appeal makes them particularly attractive to streaming platforms with both American and international versions/audiences.

  • European soccer's system of promotion/relegation also provides a unique backdrop, with the possibility of moving up (or down) a division adding immediate drama to any story.
  • In the case of Reynolds and McElhenney, who's best known for "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," their purchase of Wrexham is literally a movie plot.
  • They might not get their Hollywood ending by advancing to the Premier League (Wrexham hasn't been higher than the third tier this century), but the fact that such a rise is even possible instantly makes the club more intriguing.

By the numbers: Wrexham generates between $1.98 million and $4.22 million in annual revenue, per club director Spencer Harris. If done right, a documentary series alone could generate a similar amount.

  • And Reynolds, alone, has more combined Instagram and Twitter followers (53.3 million) than Liverpool (44.5 million), last year's Premier League champs.

The bottom line: It's not always sunny in Wales (in fact, it rains a lot). But Monday was a thrilling day to be a Wrexham AFC fan. Next up: Hire Ted Lasso.

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