“Mullin! I’m gonna shove a red card so far up your ar*e people will think it’s your tongue!” is just the latest piece of published dialogue between Wrexham co-owner Ryan Reynolds and 27 year old striker Paul Mullin.
Worry not, it’s not a public Mourinho-esque attack on an underperforming player in an attempt to motivate the team, but rather the result of Wrexham’s latest social media efforts. TikTok, which is the main stage of this recent attempt at virality, signed a partnership deal with the club in 2021 after Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney purchased the club for $2.5m.
The fun doesn’t stop at TikTok, however. Reynolds utilises his own social media presence in an attempt to create virality and turn more eyes towards Wrexham AFC. The most recent evidence of this is a video posted on Reynold’s Twitter, where he dedicates a urinal at the Wrexham AFC stadium to his co-owner Rob McElhenney on his birthday (yes, you have read that correctly). The ceramic bowl has been accompanied by a gold plaque, with McElhenney’s face engraved into it, reading “With love from Wrexham AFC. Paid for by Ryan Reynolds”. Are they taking the p**s?!
It’s taken Deadpool and Mac from Philly just over a year to swap Ifor Williams Trailers for EA Sports and TikTok on the Wrexham AFC sponsorship bill, and there’s no doubt that the new owners are bringing in more revenue for the club, more opportunities for the brand, and higher ambitions for the supporters. But there’s one question I would still like answered. Is it all a bit cringe?
There’s certainly a British cultural obligation to hate anything that’s staged, tongue-in-cheek, and seen as a bit try-hard in the media surrounding football. Couple that with being overly American (Reynolds is Canadian, but you get my point), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a bandwagon full of hard-nut purists with a vendetta against anything that shows even the slightest touch of innovation, and god forbid, humour.
Social media admins of football clubs have been getting braver over the last few years, humanising an otherwise corporate identity of a professional sports club. But are Wrexham taking this to a new height, with the level of comedic involvement from Reynolds and McElhenney? I would argue that they are.
The relationship between the club and its owners is quirky, comedic and a great watch for the neutral. Surprisingly, to me at least, the comments on these types of gags on TikTok and Twitter are largely positive. People are getting behind the narrative, joining in with the ‘banter’, and on some occasions, even wishing that the owners of their respective clubs would be as pragmatic and quirky in their online efforts as owners.
I decided to ask a few Wrexham fans on Reddit for their opinion on the way the Hollywood due use their club. Below are some of the answers.
“I think some of it is a bit too silly at times, at the expense of the club (ie. the urinal video etc). It seems to backup the idea of them both just doing it for the sheer hell of it.
However, I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt on it really. The viral videos are there to generate clicks and views that will generate income. Behind though, it is some serious business heads who see how the sport entertainment business works. Overall, I have full confidence in what they are doing.
There is no such thing as a perfect owner who will put Messi on the field but charge only £10 at the gate. Clubs fans have to compromise when it comes to new owners.
If I have to compromise over some silly videos, then I am happy to do that in comparison.”Walitomos2 on Reddit.com/r/WrexhamAFC
I think the takeover has been amazing – my season ticket has never been worth so much and the team have really brought a buzz about the town. R&R have shown time and time again that they are both invested in the club, and incredibly conscious of leaving behind a legacy of success after they go. The investments made to the infrastructure of the club, the ground and also the requisition of the Racecourse from the University have been hugely well received actions taken by the pair. I couldn’t give less of a shit about the TikTok sponsor or the circus it brings – more eyes on Wrexham = more money for the club and subsequently the townPeevlyJr on Reddit.com/r/WrexhamAFC
I love all the new interest in the club. Ticket sales through the roof, and there’s a buzz around the club I haven’t seen for 25 yearsused777 on Reddit.com/r/WrexhamAFC
Some users have even taken to defending the owners and the content by debating amongst eachother as seen in the below exchange
Now, this is all happening during a very enjoyable time for Wrexham, as far as on-pitch happenings go. Wrexham currently sit 2nd in the National League with 7 games left. With the peculiar way the National League system works, a 2nd or 3rd spot finish would guarantee The Dragons a play-off semi-final spot to battle for entry into EFL League Two.
The club also haven’t exactly purchased their way to the top with the Hollywood acquisition. Wrexham’s market value is estimated at just over £200k, which makes them only the 13th highest in the league, in regards to monetary valuation.
Briefly taking on the role of devils advocate, if I may. Would all this be received so well had Wrexham had a nightmare season? We see and hear of players getting dogs abuse in their daily life and on social media after a poor spell of results, mainly in the Premier League. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched of an assumption to forecast a bandwagon of displeased fans the second Wrexham go on a poor run of losses, yet the players are still engaging in a staged battle of wits on the club’s TikTok. Regardless, that’s not a reason to not have fun with it – good on you, Dragons!
You might be thinking, what is the point in all this? Well, aside from a sizeable sponsorship amount TikTok’s deal is worth, the club has announced that March was its record month in social media growth. Undoubtably, it’s safe to assume that a big part of the deal between TikTok and Wrexham rests on an obligation for Reynolds and McElhenney to contribute to the platform.
At the end of the day, owners have the power to channel in their true personality at the face of the club. Some do it by creating comedic content, others by funding horrific war crimes. I certainly know which kind of owner I’d rather be behind.