Like Todd Boehly he has to cast envious glances from Chelsea all the way to North Wales and sigh. Because in Wrexham two football team owners are showing him just how to make dreams come true.
Unlike Boehly, Rob McIlhenney and Ryan Reynolds are presiding over ups rather than downs, triumph rather than turmoil, delirium rather than disappointment. And in the process they are fast becoming the most loved owners in the game.
After watching their Wrexham side beat Notts County on Monday afternoon, Reynolds and McIlhenney joined the wild celebration on the racecourse ground.
McIlhenney said in an interview that if we all had a limited number of heartbeats, he would have used up most of his ration in the final moments of the match. Reynolds, meanwhile, revealed he was on the lookout for goalkeeper Ben Foster, whose injury-time penalty save had ensured Wrexham sat top of the National League with four games to play.
“When I get my hands on Ben Foster, he’ll be on the injured list because I’m going to break my ribs, I’m going to hug him so tight,” he said.
Unlike Boehly, who seems like a man weighed down by his new acquisition, these are two owners having a blast. Of course they are both actors. But there can be no claim to how the couple were so obviously enthralled with what they bought. And their money is going where their mouth is.
Unless, for example, he enjoyed the process, there is absolutely no reason why Reynolds would have used just £1.5m of his Deadpool earnings to buy himself a house in a village near the racecourse to get to home games easier than flying from Hollywood. These are two celebrity owners who simply love what they’re doing.
And the locals were equally enthralled by the two of them, granting them the freedom of Wrexham just before the game against County. In the Turf Hotel which adjoins their home stadium, the joy at their presence is evident in the Deadpool logo decorating a wall and the Stars and Stripes flags flying in the car park.
“It was great for the city”
Mind you, they have a lot to be thankful for in Turf: not just the fact that their team is now heading back towards the big time, but the fact that before the Americans got involved they certainly weren’t serving a steady stream of tourists from across the globe.
“It’s been great for the city, people come from all over, spending money here,” Turf landlord Wayne Jones recently told Telegraph Sport. “Stay around, I guarantee there will be some Americans or Aussies here at lunchtime. I always am.
The irony is that the two Hollywood A listeners only got involved in Wrexham to create content for their broadcast company. The idea was to develop a fish-out-of-water TV documentary charting the progress of a couple who knew nothing about football as they joined a struggling club.
As the betting went, it wasn’t the riskiest: if it failed, they still had a show, albeit more like a Boehly than a Bafta winner. Instead they presided over what proved to be the footballing story of the season, one that reached its proper climax at Easter time: the story of institutional resurrection.
More to the point, this is a yarn that has captured the attention of the wider public. Never before had a Fifth Division match commanded the attention of Monday’s match.
There were just under 10,000 fans rammed into the three sided racecourse and the club could have sold double that number of tickets. In Spain, the fifth tier is played by the second teams of La Liga on training grounds. In Italy, Germany and France, most fifth division games don’t even attract an old man and a dog. Especially since the dog is watching top division matches on television.
Lo and behold, this match was broadcast live on BT Sport. And McIlhenney was quick to point out such was the worldwide interest that the game’s total mentions on Twitter were 61,923. Which, surprisingly, was more than the 61,795 generated by Sunday’s equally dramatic Liverpool-Arsenal match.
At least for now, it seems the British public is rooting for Wrexham in a way they never have for that other A-list takeover on the rise in Salford City. Somehow, in a game where the underdog is always the favorite of the uncommitted, this pair of wealthy Yankees has turned the National League’s most heavily backed operation into a cause to celebrate.
“We have a football club owned by two legends who are both incredible playwrights,” said Foster, who added to the story by playing a Roy Hodgson and returning from retirement to help the club where he’s started over an injury crisis. “But they wouldn’t have been able to write such a good script, what happened today.”
That’s partly why McIlhenney and Reynolds were so impressed: football offers a narrative that they understood can’t be artificially constructed. The good news for them is that right now the story of the imminent return of the third oldest football club in the world to the football league has turned out to be the smartest content out there.