Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are “in it for the long term” as they prepare to finalise their Wrexham takeover, according to former Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore.
Moore has agreed to take on an informal advisory role and says the pair’s unlikely relationship with the north Wales club will not be a fleeting one.
“This is not a dalliance,” Moore said.
“It’s not a case that if doesn’t work they’ll pull out. They recognise that going in is making a commitment to a community, not just to a football club.”
Moore grew up in the Wrexham area before going onto a successful business career with Microsoft and EA Sports. He left his role at Liverpool in October after three years at the helm and has now agreed to lend his experience and expertise to the new era at the Racecourse Ground.
He says he received assurances about the “authentic and genuine” intentions behind the deal after conversations with the screen stars. Reynolds and McElhenney created headlines when they were revealed as being behind a deal to buy the club from the Supporters Trust amid promises to inject £2m into the National League side and a plan to turn them into “a global force”.
The 64-year-old also held a face-to-face meeting with ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ creator McElhenney in California, at which he said he warned of the difficulties of football ownership when things do not go according to script.
Speaking to BBC Sport Wales, Moore said: “I asked that question. I said, ‘Look, you’re about to enter the world of football and everything that comes with, it warts and all’. The highs of victories and the town celebrating on a Saturday night with you. The lows and the abuse you will get if the team under performs…and the pitchforks are out.
“They’re very savvy social media participants, they’ve got tens of millions of followers between them, so I think they understand that this will come with highs and lows, but they’re certainly in it for the long term.”
“Their primary goal [is] to bring hope and optimism to a community that Rob certainly recognises from his days in South Philly and Ryan truly understands.”
Moore says McElhenney was sparked into the notion of ownership after watching – and being driven to tears by – the Netflix documentary ‘Sunderland Till I Die’. He compared it to his own experiences as a fan of home town Philadelphia’s underperforming NFL franchise the Eagles.
“He started to think about that and talked to Ryan about how can they – people who have been very fortunate in their lives – give back and football, soccer seems to be the way that they could do it,” Moore said.
“And lo and behold, they discover Wrexham.”
Moore, who was introduced to Deadpool star Reynolds and McElhenney via a mutual business associate, was clearly satisfied with the answers and ambitions held during conversations. He agreed to be on call for advice despite having only just ended his time in one of the most demanding jobs in football.
His time as Liverpool chief executive oversaw a period where the club lifted both the Champions League and – after a 30-year wait – the domestic title, although he is equally proud of the work done in the community.
Moore himself has strong connections with north Wales. A former PE teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran secondary school in Llangollen, he says he remains friends with Wales and Wrexham legends Joey Jones and Mickey Thomas from days of schoolboy football.
Having spent time watching successful Wrexham sides of the 1970s – as well as still having family in the area – he is keen to help Reynolds and McElhenney in their bid to ensure fortune returns to a club that have been out of the Football League since relegation in 2008.
“It’s very clear to me that, while the football is very important to them, they’re huge sports fans, both of them,” Moore said.
“Equally important is doing good in a community that needs a little bit of help and needs some cheering.
“As successful as Liverpool have been in the past few years, you can tell when you walk the streets, you talk to people what football means, particularly if it’s in a town or a city that’s having a tough time, all you have to cling to sometimes is your football club.”
‘Back where it belongs’
Moore adds that Reynolds and McElhenney “have done a lot of research, not only on the football club, but on north Wales in general” and cited the potential population grasp a successful Wrexham could have and – unlike Championship pair Cardiff and Swansea in the south – are not in such obvious competition with rugby.
Moore stressed that conversations have already started with regards to some of the impact that could be made in terms of working with the community and the club’s infrastructure, including the youth set-up, training ground and women’s football and “all of the things that I think will be necessary to get the club back in the race, back to where it belongs in the Football League and up and running again”.
He added: “Ryan and Rob are very engaged – we have email threads going on WhatsApp groups going; it’s not like they’re absentee owners in any shape, form or fashion.”
Moore was present at a relatively deserted Anfield when Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy, saying sharing the moment with Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish will be a lasting memory.
He is now keen to turn attentions to ending a long wait at Wrexham, albeit in almost surreal circumstances.
He warned the Hollywood pair that even if cameras are rolling at the Racecourse – with filming having begun earlier this month on a documentary charting the proposed takeover – no-one will be able to foresee just how many plot twists on the pitch are to come.
“Wrexham belongs back in the Football the League and the long-term goal needs to be to get out of a very tough league… I have every belief that they can do that, get back into League Two and retrench,” Moore said.
“There’s no guarantees in football, you know; things that ricochet off the posts and go out versus things that ricochet on the post and go in, it can often be the difference between the promotion and relegation, but I think what you’re seeing here is an ownership group that will steward this club back to where it belongs.
“I think the core fundamentals of the club are solid, in the stadium, the people behind it. There’s a good squad, good management and coaching staff there right now.
“Like anything, it can all be improved, and I think that’s the goal of what we’re aiming to do and anything that I can do, I’m more than happy to do so because that club gave me so much joy, particularly in the 70s, I feel obligated to give back anything that I can.”