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How A Kings Of Leon Show In Wales Is Turning Into An Unlikely Football Celebration

May 28 concert will double as a victory lap for Welsh football team Wrexham A.F.C.
(photo: Duane Prokop / Getty Images)

What do two major Hollywood celebrities, a chart-topping American rock band, and a long-struggling Welsh professional football team have in common? They’re all coming together for a big celebration later this month, but to understand why, we must briefly go back in time to connect the dots.

In February 2021, actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) purchased Wrexham A.F.C., which was founded in 1864 and is now the third-oldest professional association football team in the world. Although beloved in Wales and beyond, Wrexham has been relegated for the past 15 years to a competition tier far below that of England’s Premier League, and the team’s prospects for improvement appeared dire.

But just in time to be chronicled on the 2022 FX on Hulu series Welcome to Wrexham, Wrexham came within one tantalizing game last year of being promoted to the English Football League. And on April 22, the team succeeded in that goal by defeating Boreham Wood 3-1, a victory sure to be featured prominently in the second season of Welcome to Wrexham later this year.

All the while, plans have been afoot to properly celebrate Wrexham potentially securing its long-awaited promotion in conjunction with two Kings of Leon concerts at the team’s Racecourse Ground stadium on May 27-28. Reynolds and McElhenney announced those shows on social media on Feb. 28, but in an effort to not jinx anything involving the team, the latter date was not declared as the official celebration until yesterday (May 8).

Although details are still coming together, a host of Wrexham players, including charismatic forward Paul Mullin, are expected to be on hand at the show, and the opening act will be local band Declan Swans, who previously composed the now-iconic song and chant “It’s Always Sunny in Wrexham.”

Reynolds and McElhenney treated Wrexham players to a party-hearty trip to Las Vegas last weekend, during which they were presented with special Kings of Leon Wrexham jerseys and entertained with a Kings of Leon-themed fountain show outside the Bellagio hotel. The team’s presence in Sin City nearly overshadowed the coronation of Charles III in the news cycle, with U.K. tabloids breathlessly reporting on every move the players made.

“We are counting down the days until our big Wrexham shows, and the promotion party May 28 will be one for the ages,” promises Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill. Adds Wrexham Strategic Advisor to the Board Shaun Harvey, “Wrexham AFC are delighted that Kings of Leon will bring the curtain down on our record-breaking season. The show on May 28 will be a celebration of the club’s achievements with a band who have taken the headlines on many occasions.”

Kings of Leon manager Andy Mendelsohn, who also oversees the nascent touring version of the beloved The Always Sunny Podcast, says he hopes the upcoming shows will lead to an uptick in usage of Racecourse Grounds as a concert venue, thousands of extra seats to which are being added in the offseason.

“The hope is that other big bands see what’s going on in Wrexham and say, wow, we should play there too,” Mendelsohn tells SPIN. “It doesn’t take away from playing in London or any other big city, and Wrexham being able to have a concert season in the football offseason means more tourism and more business for the town. This was all a lot of wishful thinking for a long time, and now everything has come to pass.”

Following the Wrexham dates, Kings of Leon will play three additional shows in Germany, including the Rock im Park and Rock am Ring festivals. The group is also at work on the follow-up to 2021’s When You See Yourself, which debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. and at No. 2 on Billboard‘s Top Rock and Top Alternative Albums charts.