Phil Parkinson believes Wrexham can emulate Luton and reach Premier League

Manager Phil Parkinson acknowledges the crowd following a pre-season friendly match between Wrexham AFC and the LA Galaxy II

Manager Phil Parkinson acknowledges the crowd following a pre-season friendly match between Wrexham AFC and the LA Galaxy II – Getty Images

Phil Parkinson believes Wrexham can reach the Premier League with Luton Town proving it does not have to be a pipedream.

Luton became the first English side to go all the way from the top tier to non-league and back when they secured promotion to the Premier League in May, when they beat Coventry on penalties in the Championship play-off final.

And Parkinson – whose Wrexham side are due to face a youthful Manchester United in San Diego on Tuesday – said Luton’s story is a source of inspiration for the Welsh club as they too bid to climb the leagues and complete a fairytale rise.

Wrexham’s fortunes have been transformed since they were bought by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in 2021.

And having won promotion from the National League to League Two last season, Parkinson hopes there may come a day when Wrexham are playing against the likes United in the Premier League, and not just in a promotional friendly.

Asked about Wrexham’s owners saying the ambition is to reach the top flight, Parkinson said: “When you look at teams like Luton, who have gone up, you have to say ‘Why not?’

“You have to, because Luton were in this position, so I don’t think it’s a case of us getting carried away with it ourselves.

“If you understand that you need to build a club properly and put the foundations in place, like Luton Town have done, then why can’t Wrexham emulate them one day?

“Years ago Bournemouth, under Eddie Howe, were on the brink of going out of business, and got into the Premier League.

“Blackpool have also got into the Premier League, so there’s lots of examples. So why not Wrexham? But at the moment we’re concentrating on the start of this season.”

Wrexham AFC midfielder James Jones, left, and LA Galaxy II midfielder Diego Rodriguez vie for the ball during the second half of an MLS match in Carson

Wrexham AFC midfielder James Jones, left, and LA Galaxy II midfielder Diego Rodriguez vie for the ball during the second half of an MLS match in Carson – AP

Wrexham are due to face a United side that will be made up predominantly of Under-21 players, barely a week after a crowd of 50,000 turned up to watch them play Chelsea in North Carolina. Chelsea won 5-0. About 45,000 are expected at the SnapDragon Stadium in San Diego for the United match.

The Welsh club are fast-earning cult status in America thanks to the hit documentary, Welcome to Wrexham, the second series of which is due to air in September.

Their promotional tour of the US is in stark contrast to two years ago when they kicked off pre-season with a friendly against Nantwich Town.

“Commercially for the club it is important,” Parkinson said. “Everyone has tried to get the balance right. The reason we are here is because the documentary is coming out.

“It won’t get much bigger than Man Utd and Chelsea. It’s incredible to test yourself against those players. It’s a great test for our lads. Not just the technical ability, it is the power and pace. I like to think we are ready for the test.

“It’s been a great tour so far – very exciting for us. We were blown away by the reception in North Carolina. The profile has raised spirits in Wrexham. Long may that continue.”

Parkinson says he has not detected any jealousy towards Wrexham from rival clubs and believes the story has captivated most people.

Asked if he sensed any envy, Parkinson added: “Possibly, but all the people I’ve spoken to at away grounds, opposition players, they’ve all enjoyed the story.

“They want to beat us, but when we have a drink afterwards people say ‘I loved watching the show’ and opposition fans say the same, so I haven’t really picked up any anti-Wrexham feeling, because genuine football people love the story. Teams go the extra yard to beat us, but I haven’t detected any jealousy.”

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