‘Welcome to Wrexham’ returns for a ‘nail-biter’ season, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney say


Four years after purchasing Wales’ Wrexham A.F.C., Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney seem to have no regrets about their investment — despite the high costs of ownership.

The Wrexham Red Dragons recently clinched a promotion and is now two-tiers away from the top level, known as the Premier League.

The last few years have been a crash course for Reynolds and McElhenney in both the game of English soccer and the economics behind it.

The experience has been captured in the FX docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham, debuting its third season May 2. The actors spoke with The Associated Press about separating their inner-fan with public-facing jobs as chairmen and how the new episodes will be released closer to real-time.


AP: Has learning the business of sports changed you as a spectator?

McELHENNEY: No. I have to separate myself. I think what’s important about that is it allows me to give space to the supporters of Wrexham, because they deserve the right to complain and get upset when things aren’t going well because that’s their right as supporters.

I have that relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles. I both have respect for all the players in the organization, but (football) is a way I deal with my frustrations and anxiety and it’s something I look forward to on the weekend. It’s also something I have a passionate feelings about that I express to my friends, not necessarily publicly.

As chairmen of a football club, we have to hold ourselves to a different standard. We have to have at least a modicum of decorum in our exchanges about how we talk about things, because these are human beings, not characters on a screen. These are not athletes who mean nothing to us. These are our friends. These are our employees. These are people who we have to treat with dignity, grace and respect, and to recognize that this is their livelihood, so there’s a very clear line of demarcation.

REYNOLDS: Just to piggyback on that, we do have each other. We have the public facing side of it, but then we can also take a moment to enjoy a festival of expletives when we’re frustrated or if things aren’t going according to plan. You obviously express your joy for the team succeeding outwardly. You want to make sure it’s being expressed to all those supporters who have been there.

Some have spread the ashes of their grandparents and parents on the field where this club is playing. We have an impossible amount of respect for that tradition and that fan base and everything that they’ve been through, all the ups and downs. But I’m always grateful that Rob and I can have that sidebar where we both go, you know, “Holy (expletive), I can’t believe this is happening right now. I can’t believe we got out of the National League. I can’t believe we’ve just lost to this club.”

AP: With a show like this, viewers can do an internet search to see some of the outcome. Has there become a pressure to churn out episodes quicker?

REYNOLDS: Absolutely, but what we’re most excited about with respect to season three is that as the episodes are finished, we will get closer and closer to continuity with the actual football season happening. So, by the time we’re midway through season three, you’ll see we don’t have any idea what’s going to happen. Just from that sort of macro 30,000-foot narrative standpoint, we have no clue. Everything that we’re doing right now is for broke. We have to get promoted. There’s no real consolation prize if we don’t. So we are all in.

McELHENNEY: That’s truly the most exciting part about season three is that it will coincide with the end of the season. There was such a large gap between the end of last season and the documentary coming out. And we thought, ‘Well, if we’re going to continue to make the show, we want to innovate a little bit, so that it becomes more exciting, so both the fans and the documentarians don’t know what’s going to happen.’ We will catch up with the end of the season and those final few episodes. We actually will have trucks in the racecourse parking lot that will have editing facilities in them, and they will be taking footage and cutting the show as quickly as possible to get it out on onto the air, because we want it to happen in real time.

REYNOLDS: And if this season so far has taught us anything, this is going to be an absolute nail-biter yet again.

AP: Obviously the money that’s been put into the team has helped and it’s been a great emotional investment. What about financially? Where are you at?

REYNOLDS: Accountants don’t really want to hear about the emotional investment.

McELHENNEY: You want to know, like how far in the red I am? It’s pretty significant. It’s true that in the beginning when we asked our advisors if this was a good economic investment, there was not one person that I can remember that was like, “Yes.”

It was more like, “Don’t.”

REYNOLDS: Run away, yeah. History has an unbelievable amount of examples of how this was not the best idea, but we’re not in it to make money and goddamn it, we won’t. (Laughs) I think we recognize how lucky we are that we can be in this position where it isn’t about making money or any of those things. I mean, you have to be in a pretty privileged spot to be able to do this to begin with. But eventually, you know, as we climb up the leagues, we’re going to need outside help in order to sustain this club. One of our great mission statements and — this is something that is still a huge target — is to create a sustainable model for a sports club like this and allow it to support itself long after we’re dead and gone.

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