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Vegas, US tour and more signings: Wrexham has plenty of fun and work ahead after latest promotion

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LA Post: Vegas, US tour and more signings: Wrexham has plenty of fun and work ahead after latest promotion
April 15, 2024
STEVE DOUGLAS - AP

Wrexham and its Hollywood owners are halfway to the promised land.

Playing in the Premier League — the world’s richest and most popular soccer league — might not be such a fanciful notion, after all, for a club that not so long ago was success-starved, financially stricken and languishing in the fifth tier of the English game.

Under the ownership of celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney since 2021, Wrexham has achieved two successive promotions — the latest being clinched on Saturday when the team was assured of going up to third-tier League One.

Two more promotions and Wrexham will be mixing it with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League.

That, though, may take some time.

Before that, Wrexham's players have a league title to go for, some post-season celebrations to enjoy — Las Vegas, anyone? — and another U.S. preseason tour to make before starting their bid for a third straight promotion.

Here's what lies ahead for the Welsh team whose extraordinary journey is being chronicled in the popular show “Welcome to Wrexham”:

TITLE CHANCE?

Claiming one of the three automatic promotion spots in League Two was the first aim and that has been achieved with two games to spare. Now, Wrexham has a chance to win some hardware by finishing in first place and capturing the title. It won't be easy. Wrexham is in second place, four points behind Stockport, which has three games left. If Stockport isn't able to clinch first place by winning either of its next two matches, the title could be up for grabs when Wrexham hosts Stockport at the Racecourse Ground on the final day of the season. It's expected that Reynolds and McElhenney will be there for an occasion which will be a day of celebrations whatever happens.

POST-SEASON PARTY

The season hasn't finished yet but the promotion party has already begun. Wrexham's players were pictured — and filmed — enjoying themselves in a town-center pub on Sunday, a day after beating Forest Green 6-0 to spark a pitch invasion at the Racecourse Ground. Paul Mullin, the star striker and top scorer, was seen in the pub standing on a chair with his arms out and his eyes closed in front of his smiling teammates, who mixed with members of the public. After winning the fifth-tier National League last year, the squad was treated to a trip to Las Vegas by the owners — and the players might be headed to Sin City again. Asked what message was sent to Reynolds and McElhenney after sealing promotion, midfielder Elliot Lee said: “We’ve just told them to fire up the jet for Vegas!”

U.S. TOUR

Wrexham has already booked in another preseason tour of the United States, just like last year. Only one match has been confirmed so far, and that's against Chelsea in Santa Clara, California, on July 24. Wrexham played Chelsea and Manchester United as part of a four-match preseason trip to the U.S. in July 2023 that contained fixtures in North Carolina, Los Angeles, San Diego and Philadelphia in a 10-day span. It might have helped Wrexham grow its fanbase but might not been ideal in terms of travel and season preparation. Wrexham may choose to stay in and around the west coast this time and ensure the squad is back home in plenty of time to prepare for the start of the League One season on Aug. 10.

LIFE IN LEAGUE ONE

So what awaits Wrexham's players in League One? For starters, they're likely to have home and away matches against Shrewsbury, one of their big local rivals. They haven't been in the same league since 2008, though Wrexham did beat Shrewsbury in the FA Cup this season. Wigan, a Premier League team and FA Cup winner barely a decade ago, is in the third tier, as might be Bolton and Blackpool — other teams who have been in the top flight this century. Wrexham is set to receive a cash boost of around $2 million from being in League One — more than half of which comes in the form of a “solidarity payment” handed down by Premier League clubs — that will help pay for some new signings. Deloitte has reported that the average League One team generates around $11 million in revenue but Wrexham is on course to top that, helped by its wider appeal likely making the team a popular watch on iFollow — the streaming service used by the English Football League. Indeed, Wrexham's latest accounts showed that its turnover in the financial year of 2022-23 was $13.3 million, even if its losses increased to $6.4 million. Meanwhile, Wrexham will look to push on with the renovation of its Kop stand at one end of the Racecourse to boost its capacity, and therefore its gate receipts. There is a temporary stand in place at the moment, helping to lift attendances for home matches to more than 15,000. If Wrexham wanted any inspiration on its journey through the leagues, it just needs to look at Luton, which went from the fifth tier to the Premier League in nine years (2014-2023).

___

AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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