Wrexham AFC success a golden opportunity for city, says McElhenney's dad

Bob McElhenney
Bob McElhenney, Wrexham co-owner Rob McElhenney's son, says the family is "falling in love" with the city [BBC]

Wrexham's Hollywood owner Rob McElhenney has taken the club to new heights - and now his dad has stepped in with his own advice.

Bob McElhenney said the city must take full advantage of the global coverage since his son and Ryan Reynolds took control of the club in 2021.

Mr McElhenney said it was a "golden opportunity" for the city that his family were "falling in love" with.

It comes ahead of the club's final game before promotion to League One.

Mr McElhenney said his son's interest in taking over at Wrexham AFC was about more than simply making the club a success.

"It was a town with a story to tell," he said.

Stressing he was not being disparaging in any way, he said his son was interested in Wrexham because it was a place where things had been going particularly well.

Rob and Ryan
Wrexham's latest promotion will be the second consecutively after they returned to the Football League after a 15-year absence in 2023 [Getty Images]

"[Rob's] thought was 'well, what happens if you put a really very positive injection into that'," Mr McElhenney added.

"And it was an explosion of positive things - positive things are happening for Wrexham because of the football club.

"We hope that the Wrexham hierarchies will take advantage of all that and see this as a golden opportunity."

One man who agrees that there has been no better time to invest in the city is former Wrexham and Wales footballer Neil Roberts, who owns newly opened bar Vault 33.

"What Rob and Ryan have done is they've given everybody the opportunity, they've given us hope, they've given us aspirations," he said.

Neil Roberts
Former Wrexham and Wales footballer Neil Roberts says now is the perfect time to invest in Wrexham [BBC]

"They've delivered on everything that they promised right at the start and continue to deliver," Mr Roberts added.

"Let's hope what we've done here will inspire other [businesses] to take a little bit of a gamble."

Wrexham's rise from the National League and a second successive promotion this month have been the focus of the TV series Welcome to Wrexham which has been screened around the globe.

This has brought a host of new international fans to the football club and helped put the recently-created city of Wrexham well and truly on the map.

Business expert Prof Dylan Jones-Evans said the city could enjoy huge growth as a result of the media attention the club had received.

He said Wrexham was uniquely placed to grow into - not only the most important manufacturing area in the UK - but "potentially globally".

Wrexham celebrating
Wrexham celebrated their promotion into League One following a their win against Forest Green Rovers on 13 April [Getty Images]

This is because there is a trend for manufacturing to be relocated back to the UK, he said, and with one of the largest industrial estates in Europe already in Wrexham, the area is well-placed to take advantage.

"This opportunity I don't think will come again," said Prof Jones-Evans, founder of the UK Fast Growth 50 Index.

Wrexham council, meanwhile, said it was doing all it can to apply for grant help to assist local entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in the area.

Councillor Nigel Williams, member for economic development and regeneration, said he believed the council was doing its best to take advantage of the publicity the area is enjoying.

"I must admit that when this first started, I think it caught us by surprise slightly - the scale of things to come," he admitted.

"We've been very successful in the last couple of years, applying for grants. As a local authority, we don't have funding ourselves.

"We've seen lots of inward investment also, from local business people, entrepreneurs, especially in the hospitality sector."

He added there had been a lot of interest from America and Europe in investing in the hotel sector because there is a shortage of bed space for the tourism sector in the area.

He said the council wanted to capitalise on the increase in overseas visitors and doing more to ensure they stay in and around the Wrexham area.