Wrexham AFC warned of League One challenge; expert cites major
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Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC warned of League One challenge; expert cites major hurdle.



Football financial specialist Kieran Maguire says Wrexham AFC will have significant obstacles to succeed if promoted to League One.

The Red Dragons are now in an excellent position to secure one of League Two’s three automatic promotion positions, sitting second in the table with 79 points and five points ahead of MK Dons in fourth.

In fact, promotion may be sealed as early as Saturday if Wrexham win their home game against Forest Green Rovers and MK Dons and Barrow lose to Mansfield Town and Gillingham, respectively.

The potential of back-to-back promotions will excite fans, and the club’s most recent records illustrate how it has used its financial clout to attract quality players under the ownership of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

According to a statement on the club’s website, Wrexham’s salary bill for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, when Phil Parkinson’s side won the National League title, was £6.9 million.

It’s almost probable that figure will be much higher in League Two, with the manager adding former Republic of Ireland player James McClean and ex-Premier League striker Steven Fletcher to his squad after promotion.

During his nearly three-year tenure at the Racecourse, Parkinson has frequently relied on recruiting players from higher levels to help the club compete at the top of the standings.

However, Maguire believes Wrexham would struggle to recreate their success in League One because the wages of Championship talent will be too high for them to afford.

Wrexham’s transfer strategy may not work in League One

Speaking on the Fearless in Devotion podcast, the author of ‘The Price of Football’ stated: “There was obviously a drive by the owners to push Wrexham through the National League and, ideally, into League Two as well.

“Because there is no equivalent of financial fair play in the National League, it is feasible to recruit League One players, pay them League One salary, and then be promoted.

“That works in the National League, and to some extent in League Two, since you can outbid the vast majority of clubs, given that Wrexham has bigger income.

“I believe you will reach a plateau in League One because, no disrespect, you cannot go out and buy players on Championship wages.

“The average weekly wage in the Championship ranges from £12 to £14,000. I have a fair sense of what Wrexham pays, and it’s nowhere near that.”

Big name clubs make competition even tougher

If the Red Dragons are unable to pay greater wages, the club may be forced to reconsider its transfer strategy and undergo a period of consolidation.

Maguire believes the stature of other League One teams will make it tough for Wrexham to compete at the top level.

He stated that if the club is promoted, they must compete with the other 23 clubs in League One.

“Then you look around and see which clubs you might be competing with.

“If Sheffield Wednesday is demoted, they’re averaging 25,000 fans per game, Derby County is there this season, and Bolton Wanderers are there.

“They’re all well-established clubs. All of a sudden, you’re on a level playing field with a large number of League One clubs, and it becomes much more difficult.”

While these issues are cause for concern, there are other reasons to be positive about the club’s future.

Despite overall losses of £5.1 million, according to the club’s official website, Wrexham generated about £10.5 million in revenue last fiscal year, up from just under £6 million the previous year.

This is likely due in part to the popularity of the ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary, which has significantly raised the club’s visibility around the world.

With a third season set to premiere on Disney+ in early May, a revenue gain may truly help the team push forward if it is successfully promoted to League One.





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