Wrexham AFC: The fastest growing club in the world

Wrexham

The name Wrexham may come as a mystery to football fans across the globe, but this Welsh city located in the borough of Wrexham county is quickly making a name for itself globally.

In a city of blue collar workers, they all share the same passion – their beloved Wrexham Association Football Club. A club that has some of the richest history that you will find across any sporting codes around the world. Founded in October of 1864, Wrexham AFC is the oldest Association Football side in the world. Nicknamed the Dragons, they are the heart and soul of this Welsh community and the football team competes in the National league, the English fifth tier.

The name Wrexham may be ringing a few bells in readers’ minds by now. The Dragons have rapidly rose to the top of football news tabloids across the globe in the past two years after its high profile sale to Hollywood Actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds in November of 2020. This created much noise around Wrexham, but what was to follow could not be imagined.

Whilst News outlets and football media pundits were debating the intentions of the club having American ownership, Wrexham was working tirelessly behind the scenes to put themselves back on the map. The rich history of the club, which includes the home ground of Racehorse Ground, is the world’s oldest international football stadium. The potentially bright future for the Dragons is one of the reasons why Reynolds and McElhenney jumped at the opportunity to buy at a price tag that cost the pair £2million ($3.32 million) in total.

With high profile owners, comes equally high profile opportunities. Disney+, the online streaming platform home to a whopping 221 million subscribers, saw the potential in the Wrexham AFC story – arguably one that is only just beginning. The documentary follows the club’s journey through the 2021 National League season in their pursuit to gain promotion into League 2. Reynolds and McElhenney have both stated that the goal for the club in 2022 is to be promoted to the next tier, with their long term vision for the Dragons eventually making a top flight appearance in the English Premier League.

Disney+ has done a compelling job in capturing the excitement and optimism surrounding the club. The ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ series paints the picture of a true underdog trying to survive and battle their way to the top. With the show’s episodes being released weekly in the midst of the club’s season, it has generated massive amounts of interest both domestically and internationally. A large focus has been tapping into the international markets and bringing Wrexham’s story to the world. In the United States, Wrexham merchandise sales spiked following the release of an episode. To measure the direct impact the documentary is having on its US viewers, a data science team from global e-commerce firm Pattern analysed consumer demand for Wrexham AFC merchandise on Amazon daily for the year to date. They found that merchandise sales skyrocketed by 47% on average the day after an episode is released – with Wrexham football shirts being the most in-demand item with an average increase of 113%.

With such an interest in the club, many new fans are asking the question of how they can watch Wrexham games. This is a key area of focus for Reynolds and McElhenney who both recognise the need for streaming of games being based in North America themselves. In a bid to capitalise on club interest, Wrexham approached the National League bosses with a proposal to stream Wrexham matches both domestically and internationally. The proposal was shut down which Reynolds described as ‘truly baffling’. Instead the National League is looking to create its own streaming service for the league.

Wrexham’s proposal to the National League was the idea of free international streaming to lure new fans towards the club and league. Domestic fans would pay £10 ($16) to stream live matches with all streaming profits being given to the National League. It’s obvious Wrexham’s new owners are trying to maximise the club’s growth by getting more eyes on the Dragons through live streaming matches.

The ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary has shown the power and reach of streaming to a global audience. Reynolds and McElhenney’s focus is on connecting fans of the documentary to the club’s live matches, giving fans full access to their journey. As mentioned earlier, the revenue will come with growing interest in the club, and the spike in merchandise sales is a sign of that growth.

Venezia FC: cultivating a unique fashion and branding profile

The heritage, the charm, the biennales, the architecture, the art, the canals, the fashion and now football has been added to that list.

Venice boasts a wealth of cultural treasures, and for the first time in 19 years in 2021 the city had its own football team, Venezia FC, playing in the top division of Italian football.

Despite the city’s brilliance and beauty, Venezia FC’s path to the top has been far from conventional. Over the past couple of decades, the club has faced financial chaos, backroom turmoil, relegations, and takeovers. Yet, despite these sink-or-swim moments, the few years prior to being promoted to Serie A, have seen the club flourish on the world stage in a completely new way.

Despite players and fans needing to travel by boat to the 11,150-capacity Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, the club has ascended with a clear Moneyball philosophy and a marketing team that has transformed them into a true powerhouse in style and with the highest level of craftmanship to the making of clothes.

The kits have been an undeniable success, generating the kind of buzz and headlines usually reserved for Nigeria and PSG releases. The home kit sold out on its first day of sale, and since then, 95% of online sales have come from outside Italy. Venezia FC has truly gone global.

Naturally, any marketer understands that successful brands don’t just provide products to purchase; they offer something to be a part of. While selling items is beneficial, selling a lifestyle is even more effective.

Before long, the website of Venezia FC began featuring poetic essays about the city and interviews with esteemed cultural figures like Cecilia Alemani, the artistic director of the Biennale. The post-match report adopted a passionate editorial tone that is rarely observed in the realm of football.

Ted Philipakos, the former Chief Marketing Officer of Venezia FC, is one of the key architects behind the club’s rapid success both on and off the field. As the club started to emerge from its depths, the former NYU sports marketing professor managed Venezia’s transition from Nike to Kappa – a change that has significantly transformed the club ever since.

Venezia’s fairytale return to prominence has been widely chronicled, but a lesser-known story is how the club swiftly transitioned from the verge of collapse to flourishing once more.

The club’s initial connection to the fashion world came through a scarf created in collaboration with the New York collective Nowhere F.C., produced in 2017 featuring in a photoshoot in NYC.

Under the art direction of Fly Nowhere, Venezia FC’s marketing, creative strategies, and merchandise were managed between New York and Venice, providing the club with global visibility through a stylistic perspective for the first time.

In February 2020, Duncan Niederauer, the former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange spearheaded an ownership restructuring and assumed the role of president, a time when the club was undergoing one of the most dramatic rebranding’s in recent football history. The club aimed to align its identity more closely with the city’s renowned classical art and architecture.

The Winged Lion, central to both the club’s logo and the iconic Piazza San Marco, received a redesign. The kits were revamped to emphasise the club’s signature green and orange colour scheme, enhanced with subtle gold features, creating one of the most visually striking combinations in world soccer. Suddenly, Venice boasted a soccer team as glamorous and stylish as the historic buildings lining its canals.

Venezia FC will be vying to be promoted once again to the Serie A in a two legged playoff against Cremonese over the next week, with avid enthusiast of football culture will be hoping to see more of what has been famously described as “football on water” being played at the Pier Luigi Penzo Stadium once again in the top division.

The Isuzu UTE A-League and Liberty A-League clubs can take learnings for some of the techniques and strategies that have worked so well at Venezia FC, whether that is partnerships, kit launches stylishly shot around the teams home city, or even if its to standout by not having a typical football club badge, Venezia FC has set the standard on how to market their merchandise through social media platforms as well as having an upmarket boutique store.

Philipakos noted a shift in the global football landscape he said via the esquire website:

“There was a technological evolution, a generational change and a psychographic shift, where this new generation had an entirely different relationship with football.”

It is important for teams around the country to understand that a club doesn’t need a top player or be playing in the top division for them to have a huge following on social media, understanding the marketing aspect will be enough.

NSW Football Legacy Fund delivers LED lighting for Collaroy Cromer Strikers

Collaroy Cromer Strikers Football Club (CCSFC) in the Manly Warringah Football Association (MWFA) are a grant recipient in Round 2 of the NSW Football Legacy Fund for 2023-24.

This will go towards the construction of 100 lux LED floodlighting at Inman Park, located within Northern Beaches Secondary College.

The NSW Football Legacy Fund is a $10 million investment from the NSW Government.

This program’s primary focus is the support of the growing women’s football scene through new community facilities, participation initiatives, development programs and international/ tourism engagement.

CCSFC was the eighth largest club in NSW in 2023 and only recently became the biggest club per participation in MWFA with over 2,000 members.

The MWFA itself was the largest association in NSW in 2023 and had an impressive 10% participation from local northern beaches council communities with 20,000 members.

Cromer High's LED lights by day.

Soccerscene spoke to David Manson, CCSFC Vice President of Girls/Women’s Teams, on this player influx and the new project for the club.

“The club executive team had dedicated a lot of time in arranging the ability to utilise the ground at Cromer High through the Council,” he said.

“The club growth has been finding it difficult to allocate training enough training space on its existing fields within suitable hours.

The Football Legacy Program has given CCSFC a grant of up to $68,000 with a co-contribution from the club itself of $68,000 for the lighting installation specifically. The club also invested another $60,000.00 for the Irrigation ($45,000.00) and the lighting development application ($15,000,00) costs.

“Once the access was granted, the club committed to the installation of an Irrigation system and then new sports field lighting.

“The costs to install lighting is significant so applying for the grant to fund 50% was an easy decision.

“The grant process itself has been very simple and effective process.”

This expansion will importantly allow for an extra field to be open for longer hours through the afternoon, and also help lessen the impact on the other available fields, increasing the quality of all playing sites.

“The inclusion of lighting at Inman Park will enable the club to allocate another area for teams to train and play in winter competitions,” Manson said.

Manson also indicated the wider future community impacts of having another field available.

“It will enhance facilities for the local community by increasing the percentage of children and adults participating regularly in football, increasing the number of facilities designated for football and improve participant retention for football and active recreation,” he explained.

A wide view of the LED lights in action.

A key part of the investment application is the impact on women’s football, Manson added about the impressive growth the club has had in their women’s participation.

“Since 2020 Collaroy Cromer Strikers have seen its largest growth in women between the ages of U8-U18,” he said.

“Season 2020 has the strikers (CCSFC) players in these age groups at 397. In 2023 we have 577.

“That means a total increase of 180 players at roughly 65% increase in that period.

“Overall female participation rose from 2022 (693) to 2023 (743) a total of 50 more participants” In 2024 the club has a total of 882 registered female players.

This investment in the upgrade in facilities has been accepted as welcomed support for the Club, towards its ever-expanding registration numbers and quality of football.

It also indicates how investment into existing club programs for facilities or equipment upgrades can elevate the local clubs and the footballing opportunities for all in our communities.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks

Send this to a friend