Yes, Wrexham AFC are getting an absurd amount of attention - but that’s not necessarily a bad thing

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Wrexham AFC are preparing for their first season in the EFL since 2008, after the club escaped the National League last month.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret; the better a story is, the more likely journalists are to write about it. Crazy, I know. And as far as stories go, they don’t get much better than two Hollywood actors buying a non-league football club, growing to cherish both the sport and their purchase, and then guiding said club back to the EFL after an absence of a decade-and-a-half. You can forgive people for taking an interest.

Ever since Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney arrived in North Wales with their documentary crew and their perfect smiles, Wrexham have proven to be a divisive presence around the swirling plughole of footballing discourse. There are those, both here and across the Atlantic, that have been charmed and seduced by the earnest romance of it all. There are others, their green eyes glinting from the shadows, who have taken a much more cynical stance. For these grouchy misanthropes, the whole thing wreaks of injustice, of bigger boys waltzing in and ruining their fun. You get the impression that they might once have been the kind of children who blew out the candles on other kids’ birthday cakes.

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Wrexham co-owners and Hollywood A-listers Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds  Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesWrexham co-owners and Hollywood A-listers Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds  Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Wrexham co-owners and Hollywood A-listers Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

And look, I sort of get it. Wrexham haven’t exactly been showered with attention since Reynolds and McElhenney took over, but rather waterboarded. Every miniscule morsel of progress and drama has been magnified and amplified to a monstrous extent. When Ben Foster signed earlier in the season, it was reported on with the same exalted fervour as an unexpected state visit from a Martian delegation. When they got promoted recently the montages and puff pieces could have sustained a rolling news channel for a week; in some instances they did. I mean, for crying out loud, this is a lower league side who have climbed from the gutter of the doldrums to having their own dedicated section on The Athletic in a couple of seasons. It’s... a lot.

Now that Wrexham are in League Two, expect the deliberations to go nuclear. Already we are seeing a deluge of articles on their retained list and summer transfer plans. Some observers have been quick to argue that we are unlikely to see similar fixations wheeled out for the likes of Grimsby Town or Barrow, and they’re right.

But let’s try and consider the bigger picture here. Wrexham’s ascent brought more attention to the National League than ever before. It illuminated a division that has so often gone under-appreciated, and while the effects of that newfound popularity might not have been distributed entirely equally, on the whole, it was a net positive for the profile of the competition. Reynolds and McElhenney’s venture is sure to do a similar thing for League Two.

Wrexham will bring with them pageantry and sycophancy, but they will also bring eyeballs, and again, that can only be a good thing. It might be a slow burn, a laconic spread over the duration of a campaign, but their inclusion in the fourth tier has the potential to elevate its renown incalculably. Surely that’s worth the odd traffic-chasing SEO piece from a national publication here and there.

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