Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney Buy Stake in Mexico’s Club Necaxa Soccer Team After Wrexham Success (EXCLUSIVE)

After helping to transform a soccer team and a town in Wales, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have set their sights on central Mexico as the next spot to invest in a beloved local sports franchise.

Reynolds and McElhenney have purchased a stake in Club Necaxa, the century-old Mexican soccer club that also counts Eva Longoria among its owners. The pair will work with Longoria and fellow investors Al Tylis and Sam Porter to enhance Club Necaxa’s standing and grow its profile in international sports circles at a time of heightened TV and streaming demand for soccer content. It’s understood that Longoria, the Mexican American multihyphenate, helped bring Reynolds and McElhenney into the investor group.

More from Variety

Reynolds, the “Deadpool” star who has a strong track record as an investor and entrepreneur, and McElhenney, the multi-hyphenate comedy auteur known for offbeat comedies “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Mythic Quest,” made the investment through their R.R. McReynolds Company, which owns Wrexham AFC. Reynolds and McElhenney serve as chair of Wrexham’s board of directors. It’s unclear what role they will play in the leadership of Club Necaxa.

The Reynolds-McElhenney connection raises the prospect of Club Necaxa being a focal point of a TV docu-series along the lines of “Welcome to Wrexham,” which put the storied Welsh club on the pop culture map. The FX series, which premieres its third season on May 2, chronicles the revitalization of the hardscrabble town that accompanied the influx of capital for the storied team, which is one of the oldest football clubs in the world but had fallen on hard times. Season 2 of “Welcome to Wrexham” won five Emmy Awards for 2023, including the trophy for best unstructured reality program.

Sources close to the situation stressed that speculation about a Club Necaxa docu-series or other TV properties is premature because there no deals are in place with the team for any such projects. The new investors still need to work out TV access around the team’s existing rights pacts. Longoria’s Hyphenate Media Group would likely be involved in any content to come from the club, as would Reynolds’ and McElhenney’s banners.

The Reynolds-McElhenney investment in Club Necaxa is a sign of how crucial media deals and pop culture promotion strategies are to bringing new life to sports franchises. Connections to high-wattage celebrities are increasingly important for sports franchises old and new. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming platforms with global reach are helping to grow international fan bases for overseas teams that were once out of reach for most American viewers.

Unlike Wrexham, Club Necaxa has remained a top-tier franchise in Mexico, but the team’s most recent heyday was in the 1990s. Longoria, Tylis and Porter purchased their interest in the club in 2021. Reynolds and McElhenney surprised industry observers when they struck a $2.5 million deal to take over Wrexham in November 2020.

Club Necaxa is based in Aguascalientes, in northern-central Mexico. The size of the R.R. McReynolds’ stake is unclear. It’s a minority interest but said by a source close to the deal to be of “significant” size. Representatives for Reynolds, Longoria and FX declined to comment for this story.

Club Necaxa was valued in the low nine figures back in 2021, when a group led by Tylis and Porter and including Longoria bought about 50% of the franchise from the Tinajero family. Other investors joined their group later on, including a 2022 round that valued the team north of $200 million.

Tylis, a former real estate who has become an active sports and media investor through his Tylis Family Foundation, is co-chair of Club Necaxa. Porter, previously a top agent with Exclusive Sports Group, is a board member of Club Necaxa and of the Swansea City soccer team in Wales.

Liga MX is the most-watched soccer league in the U.S. by a wide margin, outdrawing MLS, La Liga and the English Premier League, but its teams trade for much less than its MLS counterparts. Some of that is due to structural differences, primarily the fact that the league doesn’t sell its commercial rights as a unified group, which allows the more popular teams like Chivas and Club América to command most of the money in the market. There has been a push to change that structure in recent years, as well as the temporary suspension of relegation to lower leagues and a higher commitment to financial transparency.
That said, investors see an opportunity beyond the current TV viewership.

Mexico is a nation of about 130 million people, one of the 10 most populous countries in the world, and there are another 37.2 million Hispanics of Mexican origin in the U.S., according to 2021 numbers from Pew Research Center. MLS has discussed a possible merger with Liga MX in the past, and more recently launched the Leagues Cup, played annually between teams from both countries.

(Pictured: Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and Eva Longoria)

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.