Could Wrexham AFC Ever Make The Premier League?

Impossible is nothing.

Image: Romer Macapuno

After receiving huge financial backing from two prominent Hollywood figures, the difficult journey to the Premier League has just started for Wrexham AFC.

Wrexham AFC may be living up to the hype….at least for now. They just scored a 3-1 victory over Boreham Wood, earning them the National League Title and a long-awaited return to the English Football League (EFL) League Two.

If you’ve watched the docu-series “Welcome to Wrexham”, you’ll know that Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney purchased the football club. The purchase was reportedly for £2 million ($2.78 million USD), and the influence of the famous Deadpool actor (Reynolds) and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia lead (McElhenney) could pour in more resources to Wrexham.

There’s no doubt that the ambitions are high in Wrexham — McElhenney even said that the Premier League is their ultimate destination. Getting to the Premier League will be a long and winding road, and here are some questions that Wrexham should answer to get there.

How long would it take Wrexham AFC to reach the English Premier League?

It will take a whole lot of patience. McElhenney pointed out that Wrexham AFC’s Premier League ambition might take “eight to ten years”; Reynolds even went on to say that it’s a “multi-decade” process.

There are five main tiers in the English football system, starting with the National League at the bottom. The EFL League 2, League 1, and Championship are the next three tiers in the system, with the Premier League as the topmost tier.

The fact that Wrexham spent the last 15 years in the National League tells you how hard it is to get promoted from one tier to the next. Wrexham is now in the League 2, so they still need to climb two big steps in the ladder (League 1 and the Championship) to get to the Premier League. 

If you’re rooting for Wrexham to reach the summit, it’s best not to take a peek at the record books. Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992, no National League team has ever reached the top of the English Football system. Historically speaking, Wrexham is gunning for an achievement that no other English football club has done before.

What will it cost?

The billion-dollar question. How deep are Ryan Reynold’s pockets?

The cost of managing an English football club depends on the tier that the team is in. For now, it appears that Wrexham is keeping up with their direct competition. Per a column written by ESPN’s Ryan O’Hanlon, Wrexham is reportedly shelling out around ₤3.5 million in salaries. That is thrice the average salary bill of a club in the National League. 

This spells great news for Wrexham, at least in their chances of being promoted to League 1. Consultancy group Twenty First Group (TFG) estimates that for a League 2 club to have a 25% chance of being promoted to the League 1, they have to spend around ₤3.7 million in salaries. Wrexham’s current salary bill is already around that range.

However, bigger financial challenges beckon for Wrexham if they reach the League 1. Per TFG, a League 1 club should spend around ₤9 million in salaries to have at least a 25% chance of making the EFL Championship. Beyond that, a Championship club should spend around ₤39 million in salaries to garner a 25% chance of getting promoted to the Premier League.

So you see, even with Reynolds and McElhenney at the helm, Wrexham will still face enormous financial challenges. Sure, they may be on the right course, but can they endure the bigger storms?  

How does Wrexham stack up against the competition?

Ollie Palmer and Elliot Lee of Wrexham hold the Vanarama National League trophy as Wrexham celebrate promotion back to the English Football League 

The good news is that Wrexham is not a shabby football club — relatively that is. As O’Hanlon pointed out in his column, TFG places Wrexham as the 1,265th-best football club in the global rankings. Of course, it’s not that impressive from that standpoint alone. 

If you look at England alone, Wrexham is already ranked 62nd out of the 92 qualifying teams (72 EFL teams and 20 Premier League teams). That’s not bad for a football club that just got promoted from fifth-tier to fourth.

Along with reeling in as many investors as they can, Wrexham obviously has to form a well-balanced team to compete against the elites. Bringing in the likes of former Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster is a good start.

Improbable but not impossible

Wrexham AFC’s journey to the Premier League is improbable but not impossible. After languishing in the fifth division for the past 15 years, any forward step they take will be a welcome sight. 

Their recent promotion to the EFL is just the beginning.