Man Capital invests in €100m football partnership with Right To Dream
Right To Dream, the global opportunity-creating ecosystem of football academies, professional football clubs and partnering colleges and universities, founded by visionary British social entrepreneur, Tom Vernon, has formed a new €100 million partnership with Man Capital LLP (“Man Capital”) to help bring greater access, opportunity and equality through football.
The investment in Right To Dream by Man Capital, the UK-based investment arm of the Egyptian Mansour Group, a family-owned global conglomerate, is being made through Man Sports, a new entity established for the partnership. Focus will be on establishing a Right To Dream academy in Egypt, and furthering the activities of the Right To Dream academy in Ghana, the FC Nordsjælland club and academy in Denmark, exploring UK opportunities at club and academy level, and expanding women’s and girl’s programmes across the organisation.
Under the terms of the partnership, Man Sports will assume majority control of Right to Dream with Tom Vernon remaining the other significant shareholder. Mr Mohamed Mansour, the Founder and Chairman of Man Capital, becomes Chairman of the Board of Right To Dream, while his son, Mr Loutfy Mansour, the CEO of Man Capital, becomes a Board member.
The partnership enables Right To Dream to hire new senior leaders across the organisation, with several appointments already being made for the new venture, namely Mohammed Wasfy as MD of the new Right To Dream academy to be launched in Egypt, Pippa Grange taking on a permanent role as Group Chief Culture Officer, and Jan Laursen being promoted into the role of Chairman of FC Nordsjælland.
Tom Vernon, who continues in his role as CEO of Right To Dream Group, said: “For 20 years Right To Dream has been using football as a vehicle for social change, bringing life-changing opportunities through sport and education for children and their communities. This partnership helps Right To Dream accelerate global expansion plans to provide more opportunities for more children around the world, continuing to put people and purpose at the centre of football. With the support of the Mansour family, we continue to aspire to the creation of a new standard of purpose-driven sports for clubs academies and players.”
The first project for the new partnership sees Right To Dream build an academy in Egypt, for boys and girls, following the same model as the successful academies in Ghana and Denmark. Supporting the Government’s national development agenda, “Egypt 2030”, the Egyptian academy will be located in West Cairo, with construction expected to begin early this year ready to welcome its first group of children in 2022.
Mr Mohammed Wasfy joins Right To Dream as MD of RTD Egypt to lead this project and the development of the organisation in the country, supported by the Mansour family. Closely following the opening of the new academy will see the launch of a new professional women’s football team. This elite Women’s team will showcase purpose-driven female athletes at their best, embodying the RTD brand and model with an aspiration to recruit and attract top talent into Egyptian women’s football.
Speaking about the investment, Mr Mohamed Mansour, Chairman and Founder of Man Capital, said: “I could not be prouder to be investing in and partnering with Tom and his team at Right To Dream, who are inspirational for the life-changing work they undertake with talented boys and girls across Africa, Europe and the Americas. We have long taken a close interest in the work they are doing and are delighted to be announcing our partnership today. Not only are we a family of football fans, indeed my uncle Mostafa Kamel Mansour even represented Egypt in the 1934 World Cup, but we are committed to supporting communities across Africa, through our foundations and other philanthropic activities.”
Right To Dream academies are not simply a pipeline for talent, they are platforms of opportunity for the boys and girls who come into contact with them, on and off the field. Established in Ghana before expanding into Europe and North America, Right To Dream academies aim to merge people and purpose through the lens of football. The academies have links to world class universities and educational establishments and provide a personal development environment for young people who lack access to schooling and sport.
Having already graduated over 140 students, with 82 students currently at the academy, Right To Dream has a vision to create a global chain of academies that fundamentally change the role clubs play in football today. Pippa Grange, Right To Dream’s new Global Chief Culture Officer says, “Skills on the field are just as important as education, character development and aspiration off it. Right To Dream develops every aspect of a child’s life, giving them the best possible support and preparation to make their way in the world.”
The success of Right To Dream’s academy model is clear. In 2016, Right To Dream acquired FC Nordsjælland (FCN), the Danish Superliga club that does things differently. FCN was the first club in the world to sign with Common Goal. They launched a professional women’s football team, along with a girl’s academy and continue to maintain the ambition of developing and promoting significant numbers of players from their two academies (currently 80% of the men’s first team are from Right To Dream’s own academies) and attracting purpose led top class senior players to the model. Now, with an average age of below 22, FCN’s story is becoming well documented. Within the last 12 months, six academy players have received a call up for international duty, and since the Right To Dream acquisition in 2015, 58 academy players have received call ups to national youth teams (49 boys and 12 girls).
FCN has also generated transfer fees in excess of €65m, the majority of which being players who progressed through from the academies, over the last five years, and has coaches such as Michael Essien emerging. With Jan Laursen at the helm, stepping up to the role of Club Chairman as part of the new partnership, FCN is on track for even greater things.
Right To Dream is working towards a different future for global football. “We believe there can be a greater purpose-driven model in football where clubs take an active role in social change, rather than leaning on individual athlete-driven social consciousness. Our academies do exactly that and once Egypt is firmly established, we’ll set our sights on the UK. With our partners and our strong experienced team, we are hungry to do more for the growing elite sporting talent and educational achievements of children coming through our academies, to help them achieve their dreams”, concluded Vernon.