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Wrexham’s Hollywood stardust will be missed, says National League official

24 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Wrexham fans celebrate on the pitch following promotion to the EFL Martin Rickett/PA Images

Wrexham have helped raise the profile of the National League to a new level and will be missed, according to a member of the league’s board.

The Welsh side, whose takeover by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney has thrust them into the spotlight, sealed promotion to League Two on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Boreham Wood.

The involvement of Reynolds and McElhenney has helped bring a new, global audience to the English fifth tier, and Shahid Azeem, the chairman of Aldershot and the National League board’s commercial lead, told the PA news agency: “I want to congratulate them on going up.

“From a personal point of view I loved going up there and meeting the people there – some of the old guard like (club president) Dixie McNeil, there’s some lovely people there.

“It’s not an easy place to get to – I won’t miss the journey that much but I will miss the people!

“They are a massive club and it’s good to see them go up. They will go up with our blessing.

“We will miss them – on the basis of the profile that they brought to the National League and the supporters they brought along to home and away games. From a marketing and branding point of view, they have certainly raised the profile of the National League.”

Social media

The club published an update on their social media engagement at the start of April, revealing they had amassed 150,000 new followers and subscribers across the five main social media platforms in March, and had now reached 517,000 followers across the platforms.

“What they have done is push and challenge everybody to (see) some of the opportunities that are out there,” Azeem added.

“I think it’s positive what they’ve done. There have been some challenges, but in reality we get on well with them and I think they have conducted themselves well.”

One challenge came earlier this season when Reynolds criticised the league last September over the absence of a streaming service. The league’s service kicked off in December, with all matches now available to stream worldwide and all matches outside of the Saturday afternoon blackout period available in the UK and the Republic of Ireland as well.

Asked if Wrexham had been instrumental in the streaming service coming into being, Azeem added: “That’s unfair – streaming is something we had been working on before Wrexham got involved in it, so I wouldn’t give them credit for that.

“What has happened is the number of people following Wrexham, that has helped raise the profile of other clubs.

“That has helped open up a lot of interest in the National League and that profile helps attract sponsorship.”

Azeem believes Wrexham’s success and the increased popularity of the National League outside the UK could lead to more overseas investment in the competition.

“The Premier League is a massive global brand, but the National League is more ‘touchy feely’, it’s more engaging and you’re more connected with it,” he said.

“I think investors will get involved with it, seeing what has happened with Wrexham.”

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