Made a discovery today

As hogmaestro and PJ know, I have become very interested in following the journey of Wrexham AFC, the soccer club in Wales bought in 2020 by actors Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”) and Rob McIlhenney (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”). Under the promotion/relegation system common to European soccer, Wrexham dropped out of the English Football League in 2007 and has been unable to climb back up from what is known as “non-league” football in the ensuing 15 years. There’s somewhat of a parallel in Rice and SMU getting bounced out of a major conference when the SWC folded, and have been unable to climb back up; TCU and Houston finally were able to get “promoted” back up to the Power 5.

That is, Wrexham had been unable to climb back up until Saturday, when it beat Boreham Wood 3-1 to clinch the championship of the Vanarama National League, at which point most of the 10,000+ in attendance stormed the field. The VNL champion is automatically promoted to League Two, the bottom tier of “league” football; teams finishing 2-6 will have a playoff next month to choose a second team for promotion. Which, of course, means that the bottom two teams from League Two will drop down to the VNL next season. That’s the way promotion/relegation works.

But enough background. Because of the TV documentary “Welcome to Wrexham”, shown on FX, I’m not the only American who is very interested in the team from the little town in Wales (population 60,000). Wrexham is coming for an American tour this summer, with the first game being in Chapel Hill at UNC’s Kenan Stadium against Premier League side Chelsea (PJ’s favorite club) in July. They put tickets for that match on sale this morning at the UNC website, and they are going FAST. I snagged two seats in the Wrexham section for $98.75 each, including $23.75 in taxes and fees. My discovery is that those fees include a 7.5% sales tax which has been applied to admission to any form of entertainment in North Carolina, including sports tickets. Apparently the law has been there for a while, but in 2021 they started enforcing it. The UNC website notes that the same charge applies to UNC season tickets, which cost a heckuva lot more than $75. I’m wondering if/when other states including Arkansas are going to put an entertainment tax on sports tickets.

Getting back to that soccer match, I just clicked back to the UNC ticket site for that match. Seats on the same row and section as I bought are still available – for $120 each (plus the taxes and fees). On the same row, not more than 15 feet from where I’m sitting? I’m glad I got in early. I think, though, if for some reason I’m unable to go, I will have no trouble unloading my tickets to other people hooked on “Welcome to Wrexham”. Or maybe Chelsea fans who are willing to live dangerously.

There will be a second season of Welcome to Wrexham on FX coming in August. For anyone interested in getting caught up, you can watch the entire first season (18 episodes) on Hulu as part of a Disney+ membership (which also gets you some Hog games on ESPN+), then get the second season free on FX. I managed to get in before the episodes got moved to Hulu and watched them on ESPN+ after they’d been shown on FX, without having to sign up for Hulu

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If Ted Lasso or Nate show up, they’ll fill the stadium.

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“Welcome to Wrexham” was great. I have been following the team since then as well. You can find all of their match highlights on YouTube.

They and Knott’s county destroyed the league this year with both scoring over 100 points. Knott’s county deserve the promotion as well and hopefully they will make it through the tournament unlike Wrexham last year when they finished second in League play and were then eliminated in the tournament.

On a side note…the team that was promoted last year ahead of Wrexham won League Two this year and are being promoted in successive years which is a very rare achievement!

Stockport County is in fourth place in League Two, not first, but it does look like they’ll be in the promotion playoff. With four promotion slots instead of two, it’s a little easier once they’re in the EFL. The team that won the playoff last year, Grimsby Town, is solidly in the middle of the standings in League Two.

They may sell out without Ted Lasso. I was shocked at how quickly tickets were moving this morning. My first order didn’t go through because of a credit card glitch; two minutes later when I fixed the glitch, those seats were gone. Fortunately I got two more nearby at the same price.

The VNL race could have been very boring if Wrexham had just steamrolled everyone and won by 30 points (equivalent to 10 games). It wasn’t. Notts County has a helluva team and it will be a shame if they don’t win the playoffs for promotion.

The VNL season is 46 games, home and home with the other 23 teams (League Two is the same way). Through 45 games (season ends Saturday), Wrexham has won 34, Notts County has won 32. They’ve both lost only three games (one to each other). The difference is that Wrexham won two games and Notts tied those two, thus the four point difference which Notts cannot catch now. Last year Stockport finished with 94 points to win the league; this year that would be at least 16 points behind Wrexham, maybe as much as 19.

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