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TAKEOVER ANNIVERSARY | How the past year unfolded

Highlights of an incredible third year since the takeover

9 February 2024

Feature

TAKEOVER ANNIVERSARY | How the past year unfolded

Highlights of an incredible third year since the takeover

9 February 2024

Today – Friday February 9, 2024 – marks three years since the takeover of the Football Club by co-chairmen Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds.

The takeover was completed on this day in 2021, with the Club’s co-chairmen setting out with a stated goal to grow the team and return it to the English Football League in front of increased attendances, and in an improved stadium, while making a positive difference to the wider community in Wrexham.

In the past 12 months, some major milestones have been achieved in that regard – notably promotion back to the EFL after a 15-year absence, which was secured with victory at home to Boreham Wood in April.

Wrexham AFC Women also won promotion in April, reaching the Welsh top flight – the Genero Adran Premier – for the first time since their reformation. Promotion also allowed the women’s team to become the first in Wales to turn semi-professional.

In their final league game of the 2022/23 season, a Welsh domestic record (for men or women) of 9,511 supporters watched the women’s team beat Connah’s Quay Nomads 2-1.

The future looks bright for both teams too, with Wrexham AFC Women Under-19s winning the Genero Adran U19s North and Wrexham AFC Youth topping the National League Youth Alliance Division H table.

Success was celebrated with an incredible 40,000 turning out for the Club’s title parade through the streets of Wrexham.

In May, live music returned to the Cae Ras when Kings of Leon played two massive shows over the Bank Holiday Weekend. The summer also saw changes around the stadium, most notably with the iconic floodlights being replaced by newer, bigger, brighter lights.

Wrexham also travelled to the USA for the first time, playing pre-season matches in Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, San Diego and Philadelphia. The tour saw many of the Club’s Stateside fans get to watch the team in person for the first time, with a crowd of more than 50,000 at the Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill. Victory against Manchester United saw the Snapdragon Cup added to the Club’s palmares for good measure.

New sponsors have been welcomed on board in the past 12 months, including STōK – the first ever sponsors of the stadium. United Airlines became front-of-shirt sponsors in the summer, while HP became Global Technology Partner and sleeve sponsors. Betty Buzz and Four Walls now adorn the men’s and women’s first-team players’ trainingwear.

Among the players to have played for the Club in the past 12 months include former top-flight and international stars like Ben Foster, James McClean, Steven Fletcher and Hannah Keryakoplis.

The Club has also revamped its Academy, successfully applying for Category Four status and building towards Category Three, with the academy team returning to the EFL Youth Alliance.

The Red Dragons made their EFL return with a home match against MK Dons on August 5, 2023, and bounced back from defeat in that game to end the 12-month period in the play-off places in League Two. The game against MK Dons saw the Club achieve their highest attendance at the STōK Cae Ras since 2007 – a mark that had already been beaten twice more before the building of the Temporary Kop added more than 2,200 seats to the capacity. With the new, temporary stand full for the match against AFC Wimbledon on January 13, a crowd of 12,478 watched Wrexham’s victory – the highest for a league game at the Cae Ras since March 1980.

Series Two of Welcome to Wrexham launched in September, while Series One was awarded five EMMY’s. Wales also returned to the Cae Ras – the national team playing at the ground for the first time since 2019.

Elliot Lee and Paul Mullin signed new contracts on New Year’s Day, with both having played their part in the Club’s strong league position, while Wrexham AFC Women have secured a top-four place on their return to the Adran Premier.

Check-out some of the highlights below, or view our bumper third anniversary gallery here.

A year in pictures

MARCH/APRIL - Wrexham AFC Women smash the Welsh attendance record and win promotion to the Genero Adran Premier

Just a few weeks after the second anniversary of the Club’s takeover, Wrexham AFC were celebrating their first senior league title – the women’s team claiming the Genero Adran North in some style, with an 11-1 win away to CPD Y Rhyl 1879.

Steve Dale’s side then completed a perfect league record – 12 wins from 12 – by beating rivals Connah’s Quay Nomads at the Racecourse. An incredible 9,511 supporters turned out to watch the game – obliterating the previous Welsh record for a domestic match (men or women). With Rob and Ryan part of that number and the S4C cameras in attendance too, TJ Dickens scored a spectacular long-range free-kick before top goalscorer Rosie Hughes slotted in a late winner.

League success set up a play-off against Briton Ferry Llansawel for a place in the Genero Adran Premier – the Welsh top flight. Wrexham confirmed before the game that victory would result in the team turning semi-professional (and becoming the first in Wales to do so). Played at Newtown’s Latham Park, Rebecca Pritchard scored the only goal of the game to seal victory and promotion, while goalkeeper Del Morgan was propelled into the limelight after a series of stunning saves.

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APRIL - Wrexham AFC win the National League title

After 15 years in non-league football, Wrexham sealed promotion back to the EFL in April with a 3-1 win at home to Boreham Wood. Victory against title rivals Notts County earlier in the month – a 3-2 win in which goalkeeper Ben Foster, just weeks after coming out of retirement to sign for the Club, saved a last-minute penalty – had put Wrexham on the brink.

Four points from the next two games meant a win in front of the BT Sport cameras and Wrexham’s home fans would be enough to win the league with a game to spare. Despite an early setback, less than a minute in, goals from Elliot Lee and a double from Paul Mullin sparked scenes of jubilation.

Luke Young and Ben Tozer lifted the National League title and the celebrations across the city continued long into the night.

A draw away to Torquay the following weekend meant Wrexham finished the season on 111 points – the highest-ever points tally for a team in the top five leagues of English football.

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MAY – 40,000 turn out to watch title parade

Wrexham AFC’s men’s and women’s first team got to celebrate their title triumphs with a trophy parade through Wrexham. A crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000 were expected as three buses carrying the men’s first team, the women’s first team (joined by Rob and Ryan) and club staff made their way from the stadium and into Wrexham.

In actual fact, an incredible 40,000 people turned out to welcome the champions on a memorable night for everybody at the Club and through the city centre.

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MAY – Kings of Leon play two massive shows in Wrexham

Kings of Leon played two massive shows at the Cae Ras to celebrate promotion, with Wrexham AFC staff and players among the tens of thousands to attend across the two days.

Declan Swans opened both days, while Kelly Jones’ Far From Saints also supported.

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MASSIVE FLOODLIGHTS

Those at the Kings of Leon shows saw the new, bigger and brighter floodlights in action for the first time.

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SUMMER – New kits and sponsors confirmed

United Airlines became Wrexham’s new front-of-shirt sponsors in the summer, while STōK Cold Brew Coffee were confirmed as the first ever sponsor of the now-renamed STōK Cae Ras.

HP’s logo adorns the new red, white and black kits as sleeve sponsor and Global Technology Partner. VistaPrint have moved to back-of-shirt sponsor, while Betty Buzz and Four Walls sponsor the players’ trainingwear.

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JULY – Wrexham AFC’s USA Invasion

The Club’s first ever US Tour gave supporters in the States their first chance to watch Wrexham on American soil, with tens of thousands taking that opportunity.

Playing in four different locations – Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Los Angeles, California; San Diego, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the sheer scale of the interest in the Club Stateside was laid clear.

A crowd of 50,596 watched the opening game of the tour, at the Kenan Memorial Stadium, against Chelsea. Wrexham recorded victories against LA Galaxy II and Manchester United – being crowned Snapdragon Cup champions for the latter – and drew with Philadelphia Union II.

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AUGUST – EFL return

Wrexham’s eagerly-awaited EFL return finally came about in August and, while the opening game ended in defeat, the Red Dragons put an indifferent start behind them to soon start climbing the table.

Promotion also meant a return to the Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy for the first time since 2007 too.

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JANUARY – Attendance records fall

In December, the Club announced the building of the Temporary Kop, which was opened for the first time for the match against Newport County on December 23. After a successful trial, it was at full capacity for the New Year’s Day win against Barrow.

As Wrexham beat AFC Wimbledon 2-0 on January 13, and incredible 12,478 watched the game – the highest attendance for a league game against the stadium since 1980.

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