Wrexham’s Hollywood owners face backlash after club took 16 domestic flights to and from away matches last season – including one lasting just 23 minutes
- Welsh side is thought to have been the only non-league team to fly to games
Wrexham’s Hollywood owners have been criticised by green activists after their team took 16 domestic flights during last year’s promotion winning season – including one lasting just 29 minutes.
The Welsh side, owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, is thought to have been the only non-league team to fly to games. This included trips to Eastleigh, Exeter and Barnet.
A journey from Manchester to Newcastle for a game against Gateshead was the shortest and would have taken around three hours by coach or two and a half hours by train.
The news has raised the hackles of environmental activists who are already angry at the club’s sponsorship deal with United Airlines.
But Welsh Secretary David TC Davies defended Reynolds and McElhenney and said it wasn’t unusual for clubs higher up the football pyramid to fly to games.
Wrexham, which is owned by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (seen in April during a game against Notts County), is thought to have been the only non-league team to fly to games last season
He said: ‘They’ve done a really really good job over the last few years and I’m certainly not going to knock Wrexham Football Club.
‘They’ve taken a lead in promoting football and promoting Wrexham, which they’ve done really well.
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‘They are perfectly within their rights, perfectly within the laws. I’m sure they are aware of climate change but, at the end of the day, they’ve got to play football.
‘That’s what they do and I think they’re doing a great job.’
Research conducted by the BBC showed Wrexham took short-haul domestic flights to eight of their National League fixtures last term: Barnet, Bromley, Dagenham & Redbridge, Eastleigh, Gateshead, Maidenhead, Maidstone and Torquay.
The players drove to Manchester Airport for the flights on chartered planes.
In addition to these 16 flights, which lasted on average for 43.5 minutes, the study also revealed that 16 ‘positioning flights’ – a journey where a plane is specifically flown into the airport it is collecting passengers from – also took place.
The club has been criticised for its carbon footprint with Reynolds and co-chairman Rob McElhenney flying by private jet to attend matches.
Wrexham player Will Boyle during a pre-season game in the USA wearing a shirt bearing the logo of the club’s sponsor, United Airlines (left). Right: Welsh Secretary David TC Davies
Katie Cross runs the organisation Pledgeball to try and lower clubs’ carbon footprints said Wrexham had a ‘surging environment impact’ which risked ‘overshadowing’ its success.
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She said: ‘The club, with the full backing of their new owners, seem to be following the well-carved out track of measuring success through global expansion and financial success.
‘Frank Huisingh, who runs campaign group Fossil Free Football criticised the deal with United Airlines which he said emulated Premier League clubs.
He said: ‘Football has a clear interest in stopping the climate crisis from escalating further. ‘It is therefore sad to see that so many young world-class players are asked to promote a very polluting activity like flying.
‘Wrexham AFC shouldn’t have followed their lead. They should do what is best for fans around the world and stop advertising air travel.
‘Reynolds and McElhenney, both 46, recently took the Wrexham squad on an all expenses trip to Las Vegas following their promotion to the National League after a 15-year absence.
The National League champions were told that a ‘monster’ party lay in wait if they won the league, something they managed in style with a record 111 points to fire them back into League Two.
Earlier this summer the team enjoyed an all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas. McElhenney (second right, in the Wrexham cap) and his wife Kaitlin Olson joined in with the festivities at TAO Beach Dayclub
Throw-in maestro Ben Tozer shared a video of him and his team-mates dancing in a hot tub
And the actors were true to their word, putting on a luxury four-day trip to Sin City with a packed itinerary.
Striker Ollie Palmer shared some photos from the airport as the squad prepared for the 10-hour flight. Midfielder Jordan Davies and centre back Aaron Hayden were both touch-and-go for the trip as their partners were expecting but both celebrated the birth of children in time to make the flight in May.
‘It became a thing where if we won the league, we’d get a holiday. So we’re off to Vegas,’ star striker Paul Mullin, who bagged 47 goals this season, told GQ.
‘Ryan and Rob told us to leave our cards at home, they’re sorting the lot. They sent us a full itinerary just now.
‘Part of me doesn’t want to go, I might be dead by the end of it! But I’d never go to Vegas by my own accord, so I’m buzzing for it.
‘The side have recently been on the tour of the United States, where they took on Chelsea and Manchester United in front of packed stadiums in Florida and San Diego.
They lost 5-0 to Chelsea but won 3-1 against Man Utd.
Reynolds had a tongue-in-cheek response to his players’ well-deserved non-stop partying via Instagram stories, which his striker Paul Mullin shared in amusement
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