Wrexham AFC and AFC Bournemouth to Face Off at UCSB’s Harder Stadium

Wrexham AFC to play at UCSB's Harder Stadium on July 20, 2024 (courtesy)

UC Santa Barbara is excited to be a part of this summer’s 2024 Wrex Coast Tour as Harder Stadium will be the location of an all-British showdown between Wrexham AFC and AFC Bournemouth on Saturday, July 20th. This is the first of a three-match tour for the Red Dragons, who are making their way up the West Coast.

Harder Stadium, also known as Soccer Heaven, is home to the UC Santa Barbara Men’s and Women’s soccer teams, who play all regular season matches on this pitch. This legendary 17,000-seat stadium has been home to multiple NCAA Division I College Cups and other professional training and matches associated with the U.S. Women’s National Team, the MLS and La Liga MX.

“To be part of the Wrex Coast Tour, and host Wrexham AFC and AFC Bournemouth here in Santa Barbara is hugely exciting,” said Director of Athletics Kelly Barsky. “The partnership is a special one as part of our mission in athletics is to serve and connect a deeply engaged community. To bring high caliber soccer to Harder Stadium, long referred to as Soccer Heaven, on our UC Santa Barbara campus with teams that share a focus on serving the community is truly exceptional.”

Wrexham AFC have shot to prominence globally since actor and entrepreneurs Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds purchased the club in 2020. The club has been featured in the immensely popular Welcome to Wrexham docu-series on FX.

Founded in 1864, Wrexham is the oldest professional soccer club in Wales, and the third oldest in the world. With their proud Welsh support at their back, Wrexham have recently risen back up through the divisions and have just confirmed a second-successive promotion, which elevates them back to League One (the third tier of English football) next season. The club has a hugely supportive American fan base and returns to North America for the second successive preseason.

“This is a hugely exciting announcement for our club, as we add another Premier League club to our Wrex Coast Tour in North America,” said Wrexham Executive Director Humphrey Ker. “Andoni Iraola has quickly established AFC Bournemouth as one of the most exciting young teams in the Premier League, and we can’t wait to test ourselves against them. Our support in California is fantastic and we’re excited to be heading to beautiful Santa Barbara, and looking forward to seeing many of our fans at this game.”

AFC Bournemouth have become a mainstay in the Premier League over the last decade, since their first ever promotion to England’s top tier in 2015. Following their takeover by Bill Foley in December 2022, and under the stewardship of their exciting first-year Spanish head coach Andoni Iraola, the Cherries have earned plaudits from pundits across the globe for their entertaining and attacking style of football, and seen on-pitch successes such as a 3-0 win at Old Trafford over Manchester United last December.

Young superstars like Dominic Solanke, Justin Kluivert and US Men’s National Team captain Tyler Adams will take the stage in Santa Barbara, as the Cherries ramp up their preparations for the 2024/25 Premier League season with their Bourne in the USA tour.

“We are delighted to announce this game as we confirm our summer tour plans,” said AFC Bournemouth Chief Executive Neill Blake. “We’re extremely excited to be bringing our team to America, and look forward to this being our opening match. It will provide a good first test for us as we look to continue building on our successes in the Premier League. We can’t wait to see our stateside Cherries fans, and we look forward to introducing ourselves to many more while in California.”

[Tickets are available to purchase here.]


Written by UCSantaBarbara

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