Ryan Reynolds and Rob McIlhenney have bought a stake in Mexican club Necaxa

'Deadpool' and 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' stars join investors Eva Longoria, Al Tillis and Sam Porter, as industry insiders gush over beloved sports franchises with untapped potential

After helping transform a football team and a town in Wales, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McIlhenny have set their sights on central Mexico as the next place to invest in a beloved local sports franchise.

Reynolds and McElhenney bought a stake in Necaxa, the century-old Mexican soccer club that counts Eva Longoria among its owners. The duo will work with Longoria and fellow investors Al Tylis and Sam Porter to strengthen and grow Club Necaxa's profile in international sports circles at a time of increased demand for television and live football content. Longoria, the American-Mexican multi-hyphenate, is understood to have helped bring Reynolds and McElhenney into the investor group.

Reynolds, the “Deadpool” star who has a strong track record as an investor and entrepreneur, and McElhenney, the multi-hyphenate comedy creator known for such quirky comedies as “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Mythic Quest,” made the investment through their companies. RR McReynolds, which owns Wrexham AFC. Reynolds and McElhenney serve as chairman of Wrexham. It is not clear what role they will play in leading Necaxa.

The Reynolds and McIlhenny connection raises the possibility that Club Necaxa could be the focal point of a 'Welcome to Wrexham'-style TV documentary series, which put the famous Welsh club on the pop culture map. The FX series, which premieres its third season on May 2, chronicles the city's difficult revitalization that accompanied the influx of capital for the legendary team, one of the oldest soccer clubs in the world but which has fallen on hard times. The second season of “Welcome to Wrexham” won five 2023 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Unscripted Reality Program.

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Sources close to the situation confirmed that speculation about a documentary series for Club Necaxa or other TV properties is premature because there are no deals with the team for any of these projects. New investors still need to work TV access around the team's existing rights agreements. Longoria's Hyphenate Media Group will likely be involved in any content coming from the club, as is the case with the Reynolds and McIlhenny banners.

Reynolds-McElhenney's investment in Club Necaxa is a sign of how important media deals and popular culture promotion strategies are in bringing new life to sports franchises. Connecting with high-powered celebrities is increasingly important for sports franchises old and new. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming platforms with global reach are helping to grow international fan bases for overseas bands that were previously out of reach for most American viewers.

Unlike Wrexham, Necaxa remains one of the best teams in Mexico, but the team's last peak was in the 1990s. Longoria, Tylis and Porter bought out their stake in the club in 2021. Reynolds and McElhenney surprised industry observers when they reached a $2.5 million deal to take over Wrexham in November 2020.

Club Necaxa is based in Aguascalientes, in north-central Mexico. The size of RR McReynolds' stake is unclear. It is a minority stake but a source close to the deal said it was of “significant” size. Representatives for Reynolds, Longoria and FX declined to comment for this story.

Club Necaxa was valued at less than nine figures in 2021, when a group led by Tylis and Porter and including Longoria bought about 50% of the franchise from the Tinajero family. Other investors later joined their group, including a 2022 round that valued the team at $200 million.

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Tylis, a former real estate developer who became an active investor in sports and media through his Tylis Family Foundation, is co-chairman of Club Necaxa. Porter, who was previously a senior agent with Exclusive Sports Group, is a board member of Club Necaxa and the Swansea City football team in Wales.

Liga MX is the most-watched soccer league in the United States by a wide margin, ahead of MLS, La Liga and the English Premier League, but its teams' circulation is much lower than their MLS counterparts. Some of this is due to structural differences, primarily the fact that the league does not sell its commercial rights as a unified group, allowing the more popular teams such as Chivas and Club America to command most of the money in the market. There have been pressures to change this structure in recent years, as well as a temporary suspension of relegation to the lower leagues and a greater commitment to financial transparency.
However, investors see opportunity beyond current TV viewership.

With a population of about 130 million, Mexico is one of the 10 most populous countries in the world, and there are another 37.2 million Hispanics of Mexican origin in the United States, according to 2021 figures from the Pew Research Center. MLS has discussed the possibility of merging with Liga MX in the past, and recently launched the League Cup, which is played annually between teams from both countries.

(Pictured: Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and Eva Longoria)

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