Wrexham owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney to be offered Freedom of the City
Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter
The Council is planning to confer the ‘freedom of the city’ status on the Hollywood A-listers for the impact they have had on Wrexham since buying the football club.
The proposal will be tabled at Wrexham Council’s Executive Board on Tuesday (November 8) in recognition of the club’s long and proud history, and the impact the two owners have had in helping to promote Wrexham across the world.
If agreed, the recommendation will be put forward for consideration at full Council in December.
Councillor Mark Pritchard (Ind), Leader of Wrexham Council, says: “Football is the beating heart of our community and there’s always been incredible passion and support for the club.
“We have an amazing story here in Wrexham, along with a unique character and identity that is winning fans all over the world.
“These two Hollywood actors have had an incredible impact on both the football club and the community and have helped catapult Wrexham onto the world stage.
“You couldn’t wish to meet two nicer people – they really are two wonderful guys who’ve put their heart and soul into this city, and it feels like the right time to talk about how we recognise that.”
Councillor David A Bithell (Ind), Deputy Leader of Wrexham Council, added: “Football is in our blood in Wrexham, and the fortunes of the club have always had a huge bearing on our community.
“We are living and enjoying very exciting times and I’m pleased this proposal is being put forward to Executive Board.
“The owners are helping us promote Wrexham as a place to visit across the world, and we need to think about how we recognise that.
“Their impact on our community has been phenomenal.”
Although the move has been discussed across the council’s political spectrum, questions have been raised about the timing of it.
Wrexham AFC issued a statement on the club website which read: The club, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds were delighted to learn that the Council will consider at their forthcoming meeting on December 21, granting them honorary freedom of the County Borough of Wrexham.
Co-Chairmen, Rob & Ryan said: “This is a great honor that the Council are proposing in recognition of the global promotion and awareness that we have been able to create for Wrexham as the Club’s custodians.
“The most significant aspect of the honor is that it recognises that we have begun to achieve what it was that we set out to deliver, off the pitch.
“Our documentary Welcome to Wrexham has taken Wrexham to households around the World and the second series will hopefully add to the increased numbers who now know where Wrexham is.
“As we have repeatedly said, this isn’t about us, we created an opportunity that the community firstly embraced and is now taking forward. The good news is that we will only get stronger together with the community at the forefront.
“We would like to thank everyone who is considering us for this award and the people of Wrexham who are making this a rewarding experience for us too.”
Humphrey Ker, Executive Director said: “For the Club to be recognised for its long history rather than just the new era is very welcome and appropriate.
“Many before Rob & Ryan, made what we are achieving today possible and deserve credit for their contribution.
“We have always stated that we should be judged by our performance against our mission statement and to receive recognition that suggests this is being achieved, is gratifying for everyone at the Club.”
New Kop stand
In addition the authority is to decide on the club’s planning application for the proposed new Kop stand next week, the day before the Executive Board meeting.
In a joint Statement – Cllr Dana Davies (Labour Group Leader) and Cllr Marc Jones (Plaid Cymru Group Leader) said: “The Freedom of the City civic award being proposed for Wrexham AFC and its current owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny is something that has been discussed with group leaders and the mayor over the past fortnight.
“This civic award is the highest accolade that the County Borough can bestow and is usually granted for outstanding service to, or achievement associated with the County Borough of Wrexham and, as such, it is a decision for full council.
“There was cross-party agreement that this should not be discussed or announced before the planning application for the Racecourse Kop, which will be debated at committee on Monday, November 7.
“We all felt it would be inappropriate to announce any proposal regarding the club and its owners in advance of that as it could be perceived to be having an undue influence on the planning process.
“Unfortunately that cross-party agreement was broken by the Leader of the Council – there is no good reason for this to come before the Executive Board. It’s a matter for the full council to decide at its next meeting on 21st December. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
The leader of the Conservative group on the council Cllr Hugh Jones, a member of the Executive Board as lead member for Place and Environment, declined to comment at this stage when approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.