Fan ownership comes to an end at Wrexham FC
As usual, here’s the Trust article from the Curzon Ashton programme for those who haven’t yet seen it, commenting on the change of ownership at Wrexham FC.
You will surely have read that Wrexham AFC, one of the oldest clubs in the world, are to be taken over. This would normally be a minor news story, perhaps notable only because the transfer of ownership is taking place when the club is on a sound financial footing (COVID notwithstanding). What makes this more interesting is that the new owners are Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds, known for films including Deadpool and Deadpool 2, and Rob McElhenney, perhaps now best known in the UK for being mates with Ryan Reynolds.
Wrexham have been fan owned since 2011, after years of financial chaos and a struggle against an unscrupulous owner who tried to evict them from the Racecourse ground, culminating in a protracted takeover saga. This was the result of a long campaign and large scale fundraising by the fans. Slowly the Wrexham Supporters Trust has paid down historic debts whilst keeping the team in the National League, at times challenging for promotion, and winning the FA Trophy. Wrexham are a model of a club living within their means in a division which has seen any number of clubs crash and burn after overstretching financially. However they have been stuck in the National League for a good number of seasons, and it’s natural that there is some frustration among fans of a club which spent most of the last century in the Football League.
This is the context in which Reynolds and McElhenney arrived with their tempting offer to invest up to £2m and take Wrexham over. An impressive presentation, with crowd pleasing promises like “We’ll never play Chester again” and a mooted Netflix documentary, won the supporters over pretty much completely, with 98% of Trust members voting in favour of the takeover. The Trust itself remained neutral on the offer, noting only that, if fans voted to accept, it would be the last time they had a say in the running of their football club.
Time will tell how successful the takeover proves to be. As the impressively open and transparent documentation accompanying the members vote shows, with an annual playing budget of £1m, a one-off £2m injection is not going to change the world overnight. It will certainly be very welcome when other sources of income such as gate receipts have dried up. What is certain is that Wrexham fans have swapped stability and security for what they hope will be a wild and exciting ride back into the Football League. The documentary will allow us to watch that ride from afar for entertainment without the emotional investment that Wrexham fans will have. We wish them well.