Wrexham co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney had admitted that the club’s financial health was riding on securing promotion back into the EFL for this season.
The pair of actors bought Wrexham at the end of 2020 and set about restoring the club to its former glory and having a positive impact on the local community – McElhenney was inspired to buy Wrexham in particular because of his own upbringing in a working class area of Philadelphia.
They have sunk money into the project to make that happen and their involvement, the subject of popular Disney+ series Welcome to Wrexham, has made the club world famous.
Picking up Wrexham in the National League, English football’s fifth tier and outside the English Football League (EFL), 2020/21 saw the club fall short of reaching the promotion playoffs by a single point. In 2021/22, they were beaten to the league’s only automatic promotion place into the EFL by Stockport County and then lost to eventual playoff winners Grimsby Town in the semi-finals.
Having expensively assembled a squad littered with players from higher divisions, promotion in 2022/23 was imperative for Wrexham’s financial sustainability, with greater revenue opportunities and income streams on offer in the EFL to fund the machine.
“From a financial perspective, if we do not get promoted this year, we are f*****,” McElhenney said, looking ahead to that campaign in the newly launched second series of Welcome to Wrexham.
Reynolds added, “We’re heavily invested in building this club, the stadium itself, and if we don’t get promoted this year, the club is completely, totally and wholly unsustainable.
“It’s really ratcheted up the pressure, not just for us but for the players on the field, the people in the community. This year we have to get promoted.”
McElhenney further stated: “If our goal from the very beginning was not just to win, not just to help bring some hope and optimism to the town, but to build a sustainable business, something that can continue long after we’ve gone.
“For us to put them in a position where if they don’t get promoted this year, that they are no longer sustainable in any real way, is counter to what our original promises were.”
Ther series unfolds to cover what happened over the course of the season, which did eventually see Wrexham win the National League to secure automatic promotion into League Two of the EFL. They did so in incredible fashion, going toe to toe with Notts County and beating their promotion rivals 3-2 in a crunch game near the end of the campaign – goalkeeper Ben Foster saved a 97th minute penalty.
Promotion was mathematically secured 12 days later and they finished on 111 points.
Wrexham saw former National League title rivals Stockport get all the way to the 2023 League Two playoff final in their first season back in the EFL, losing to Carlisle, and have been tipped to similarly challenge for back-to-back promotions themselves. After a slow start, the Welsh side have already climbed into the playoff places and are three points behind leaders Gillingham after seven games.
Before the season, Stockport were heavily fancied to finish in the automatic promotion places come May, but their start has been poor and they currently languish in 17th place.
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