If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture over the last year, you’re aware that Welcome to Wrexham has become a breakout hit for FX. The docuseries follows Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s purchase of fifth-tier Welsh soccer team Wrexham AFC and their attempts to rebuild the club and return it to prominence. The show has gained the club a large following in the U.S., but there’s one problem: it’s incredibly difficult to watch Wrexham’s matches in America. That seems like a huge missed opportunity.
On Tuesday, Wrexham faced Newcastle’s U21 team in the group stage of the EFL Trophy tournament. Unfortunately, there was no way to watch the match in America. Wrexham won 1-0 but it was difficult to find any highlights or updates as the match was being played.
At the end of the 2022-23 season, Wrexham won the National League and earned promotion to League Two, returning to English Football League play for the first time in 15 years. While in the National League, Wrexham’s matches streamed on a National League platform. Now that they’re in League Two, the only way for Americans to watch matches is to sign up for iFollow, a streaming service. A subscription for a whole season costs $225, or you can pay $33 monthly.
I realize broadcast and streaming rights are a thing, so working out a deal for one season of League Two football was probably impossible for the team. That said, the fact that legions of new fans can’t find the matches anywhere on American TV or on a service like ESPN+ is pretty crazy. And it’s a missed opportunity for League Two to help grow the game in America.
As of now, ESPN owns the rights to the English Championship’s regular season matches and League Cup matches, but will only show 20 League One and League Two matches.
The EFL reached a massive deal with Sky Sports to broadcast the Championship, League One and League Two matches, plus all of those league’s playoff matches, 93 Carabao Cup matches and all 127 EFL Trophy matches. The problem is, Sky Sports is only available in the UK and Ireland. Selling the U.S. rights to Wrexham matches to an American network would make a ton of sense for all involved.
While I’m sure iFollow is hoping tons of people sign up, it’s a lot of money to watch one team, where adding Wrexham to existing cable and streaming packages would be far more logical. And would likely wind up bringing in far more revenue in the long run.
Thus far during Wrexham’s League Two campaign, the Red Dragons are 2-3-1 and sitting in 13th place. They’ve been missing a number of key players due to injury, including star striker Paul Mullin. They’re expected to compete for the League Two title once their team is intact again. Unfortunately, there will be no easy way for those in the U.S. to watch them chase another promotion.