Sports | September 5, 2022 6:52 pm

It’s Not As Easy As It Should Be to Watch the Team From “Welcome to Wrexham”

Streaming lower-division soccer has its challenges

Wrexham AFC
Supporters celebrate Wrexham Association Football Club's first goal during a National League fixture football match against Maidenhead United, at the Racecourse Ground stadium.
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Let’s say that you’ve started watching the new series Welcome to Wrexham. Maybe you’re a fan of stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who purchased the fifth-division club Wrexham A.F.C. Maybe you just enjoyed the reviews the show got. Perhaps you’re a fan of all things Welsh. Regardless of the reasons, let’s say that after watching a few episodes, you’ve started thinking about watching a few Wrexham games.

That’s where things get a bit more complicated.

If you were looking to watch the Premier League, the top tier in England, you’d have plenty of options. Once you go a level below that, though, things get more complicated. And by the time you get to the National League, in which Wrexham A.F.C. plays, things are even more complex.

In a new article for The Athletic, Matt Slater explored the hurdles facing an American supporter of Wrexham from simply signing up somewhere for access to their team of choice. Reynolds recently took to Twitter to express his frustration with the league not allowing domestic or international streaming of matches.

“Depriving every team in our league the chance to expand the fanbase while adding to league revenue benefits everyone,” Reynolds wrote in the thread.

As Slater explained at The Athletic, BT Sport currently holds the broadcast rights for the National League, and is presently only showing a handful of games per week. Their contract is set to run for two more seasons. According to the article, a number of the league’s teams are looking into a streaming alternative — though questions about how best to share revenue have lingered.

(That’s a very simplified version; Slater’s article is well worth reading in full.)

And while there likely wasn’t a lot of interest in Wrexham matches in the U.S. before the docuseries, that isn’t to say that there was none at all; the same is true for many a National League team. (Or lower-division teams in other countries, for that matter.) One of my fondest memories of watching soccer had nothing to do with a game I was watching at all; instead, I overheard a man watch as his beloved Grimsby Town F.C. played for promotion into League Two in 2016.

Specifically, I heard the man shout “Come on you Mariners!” at one point with a fervor rarely heard outside religious services. It’s from moments like that that interest in a team can arise, and eventually become something greater. But if there’s no way to watch said team from afar, it’s the very definition of a lost opportunity.