How the Red Dragons provided a Hollywood ending to their Football League exile

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Hollywood-backed Wrexham are back in the Football League after a 15-year absence.

The Red Dragons clinched the National League title by beating Boreham Wood 3-1 on Saturday, taking them to 110 points with one game remaining.

Here, the PA news agency looks how Wrexham became fifth-tier champions and ended the long wait to be in the Football League again.

Star backing

Wrexham v Grimsby Town – Vanarama National League – Semi Final – The Racecourse Ground
Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds (left) and Rob McElhenney have transformed Wrexham since buying the Welsh club in February 2021 (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Deadpool star Reynolds and McElhenney, the creator and star of American TV comedy series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, introduced Wrexham to international audiences with an award-winning FX documentary series last year and have been frequent visitors to the Racecourse Ground.

It feels as if Wrexham’s success has been fuelled by a Hollywood juggernaut – from a new army of fans on the back of the documentary’s success to taking part in a million-dollars veterans tournament and lining up a pre-season friendly with Manchester United in California this summer.

Financial clout

Sheffield United v Wrexham – FA Cup – Fourth Round Replay – Bramall Lane
Wrexham spent a club record £300,000 to sign striker Ollie Palmer from AFC Wimbledon in January 2022 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Reynolds and McElhenney have restructured the club from top to bottom since completing their takeover from the Wrexham Supporters Trust in February 2021, with reports that more than £10million has been spent.

Training facilities have been improved with a new performance gym built on the ground’s premises and there has been major investment in the squad on transfer fees and wages with the likes of strikers Ollie Palmer and Paul Mullin lured away from Football League clubs.

Parkinson at the wheel

Sheffield United v Wrexham – FA Cup – Fourth Round Replay – Bramall Lane
Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson won previous promotions in the Football League at Colchester, Bradford and Bolton (Mike Egerton/PA)

Phil Parkinson, who won promotions at Colchester, Bradford and Bolton and guided third-tier Bradford to the 2013 League Cup final, took over and led the Red Dragons to a runners-up spot behind champions Stockport.

They would eventually lose out to Grimsby in the play-offs, but Reynolds and McElhenney chose to stick with the 55-year-old Lancastrian and that call has paid off with a record-breaking season.

Magical Mullin

Wrexham v Notts County – Vanarama National League – Racecourse Ground
Paul Mullin has been a scoring sensation since dropping two divisions to join Wrexham in 2021 (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Mullen raised eyebrows by dropping two divisions to join the north Wales club after spearheading Cambridge’s promotion from League Two in 2020-21 with 32 goals

The 28-year-old Liverpool-born striker has proved a National League sensation, scoring more than 70 goals in two seasons and leading to calls that he should gain international recognition for Wales – for whom he qualifies due to a grandparental link.

Racecourse record

Wrexham v Notts County – Vanarama National League – Racecourse Ground
Wrexham fans have played their part in turning the Racecourse Ground into a fortress (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Wrexham have dropped league points at home only once this season, a 2-2 draw against Woking in February. They have scored 71 goals at the Racecourse Ground this term, netting five (three times), six and seven in front of their own supporters.

The average attendance at the three-sided ground is close to its 10,000 capacity with Wrexham fans creating an unrivalled atmosphere in the National League.

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