Wrexham AFC, the Welsh football club owned by American actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, has done the unthinkable. They got promoted.
Left: Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images), Right: Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The Gang Gets Promoted: Wrexham AFC Moves Up to the English Football League

It started as a burgeoning bromance over direct messages on Instagram — but it has become one of the most heartwarming, if improbable, underdog stories in the sports world today. Rob McElhenney, an American actor mostly known for "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian actor known for, well, lots of things, teamed up to become owners of a Welsh football club competing in the National League, the fifth and lowest fully professional league in English football.

Wrexham AFC Takes the Next Step

Wrexham owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds hold the Vanarama National League Trophy as Wrexham celebrate promotion back to the English Football League during the Vanarama National League match between Wrexham and Boreham Wood

Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Two actors, who had never met at the time because of the pandemic, launched a joint venture to purchase Wrexham AFC back in the fall of 2020. It's a story filled with crazy twists and turns. It also highlights the venture's real-world impact on people near and far, in the sports world and beyond. You can follow the beginnings of their journey by checking out FX's "Welcome to Wrexham," which lays the groundwork for how we got to where we are today — with the Red Dragons earning promotion from the National League to the English Football League.

The opening sequence of the first episode, titled "Dream," perfectly sums up what a wild ride it has been (and could still be). The two stars, standing in the middle of the pitch on the Racecourse Ground, discuss the risks that come with potentially turning this idea into a reality. After officially launching the bid to become owners, they still needed to gain the approval of the Wrexham Supporters Trust, which had been running the club since 2011. In February 2021, the deal was completed, and the pair introduced the world not only to Wrexham AFC but also to the people who live, eat, sleep and breathe all things Wrexham.

Everyone Loves an Underdog

Ben Tozer and Luke Young of Wrexham lift the Vanarama National League Trophy as Wrexham celebrate promotion back to the English Football League during the Vanarama National League match between Wrexham and Boreham Wood at Racecourse Ground

Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The buzz around the club was almost immediate, thanks mostly to the sudden notoriety brought to it once the sale was finalized. Following along with the ups and downs of last season, season 1 of the FX documentary gave us a window into the ultimate underdog story — one we can all relate to in one way or another. The heartbreaking end to last football season, missing out on promotion, and facing the reality of yet another year in the National League all helped set the stage for what has been an utterly amazing tale of resilience and determination.

Of course, this season played out on the pitch, not through the documentary lens of "Welcome to Wrexham," whose second season won't air until the fall. This time around, fans across the globe got to share in the heart-stopping, stress-inducing exhilaration of a chase for promotion in real time. That chase came to a remarkable conclusion when the Red Dragons of Wrexham officially clinched the top spot in the National League and earned promotion with a 3-1 victory over Boreham Wood. It's been a truly wild ride for the city of Wrexham, its residents, its football club and its celebrity ownership — as well as the millions of us who can't wait to see where the club goes from here!

MORE: 'Welcome to Wrexham' Highlights Not Only a Football Club, But a Historic Welsh Community