June 27, 2023
The actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney—flush with the success they have brought to Wrexham AFC football club—are expanding their sporting portfolio with an investment in the Alpine Formula One (F1) team, reports The Guardian.
Having been central to the most unlikely rags-to-riches story documented in the enormously popular TV show Welcome To Wrexham, their part in a £157 million (US$199 million) stake in Alpine is hoped to reap a similar reward in F1 which is enjoying a resurgence in global popularity.
On Monday, June 26, Alpine, based in the UK at Enstone in Oxfordshire—and owned by the car manufacturer Renault and branded after its sportscar range—announced they had sold a 24% stake in the team to a consortium of investors.
They include Reynolds, the actor best known for his role in the Deadpool films, and McElhenney one of the lead actors in long-running sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The pair have also been joined by co-investor Michael B Jordan, the lead in the Rocky spin-offs, the Creed films.
Reynolds and McElhenney already had enjoyed a remarkable success story with their investment in Wrexham. In 2021 the pair purchased the struggling north Wales club then competing in the National League, the fifth tier of English football. The pair wanted to set about transforming the club’s fortunes and filmed their efforts to do so for a documentary series. In April of this year Wrexham secured promotion to League Two, after a 15-year absence and Disney announced they were to release a second season of the series.
Neither actor had any experience in running a football club but, emboldened by their success, have chosen to expand into F1 with Alpine, a team with ambitions to make its own step up into the top levels of the sport. There are no plans yet announced of a series to document their efforts, but F1 already enjoys its own season-long soap opera in the form of the Drive to Survive series on Netflix.
Drive to Survive—which was first shown in 2019 covering the 2018 season and with a focus on editing the stories to give a dramatic emphasis—has proven to be enormously popular. It was renewed last year for its fifth and sixth seasons; and has played a key role in the sport’s expansion in the United States, where it is enjoying a popularity not seen for decades. This year F1 will host three U.S. races—in Miami, Austin, and Las Vegas—with the latter promoted by F1’s owner Liberty Media.
The investment in Alpine by Reynolds, McElhenney, and Jordan and their involvement in attempting to turn around Alpine’s fortunes is a storyline ready made for dramatization—and one which will, doubtless, appeal to the burgeoning U.S. market.
The new deal is expected to leverage the experience of the investors in sporting franchises. The U.S.-based group includes the Maximum Effort Investments group of Reynolds, McElhenney and Jordan; Otro Capital; and RedBird Capital Partners, which owns the third-largest stake in Fenway Sports Group (owner of Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox baseball team).
That they feel confident of a return is a reflection of F1’s rude health. For years, owning a team was a hugely expensive exercise—a money pit justified by major manufacturers for marketing. However, under Liberty Media, the model has been transformed. They have increased the sport’s popularity and, with the imposition of a budget cap, have made the initial moves to compete profitably.
The value of teams is now on a sharp upward curve. As part of the sale of stock, Alpine was valued at US$900 million.
Research contact: @guardian