Right to Dream expand into MLS by adding San Diego to global community
Written by Training Ground Guru — May 19, 2023
RIGHT TO DREAM have expanded into the MLS after San Diego were awarded the league’s 30th franchise.
The global not-for-profit group already owns clubs in Denmark and Egypt, as well as Academies in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
The new MLS expansion club will be owned by Right to Dream Chairman Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and play in the MLS from 2025 at the 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium.
The other members of the club’s investor group are:
- Manny Machado: Six-time Major League Baseball All-Star and current member of the San Diego Padres.
- Brad Termini: Co-founder, Zephyr Partners.
- Tom Vernon: Founder, Right to Dream.
- Dan Dickinson: Board Member of Right to Dream.
- Sports executive Tom Penn will be the club’s CEO.
Right to Dream was founded in 1999 by former Manchester United scout Vernon. It started out as a centre that trained a few boys in Accra, Ghana, and went on to become a fully residential boys’ and girls’ Academy.
The group subsequently acquired Danish club FC Nordsjælland in 2015 and TUT FC in Egypt in 2022. Right to Dream already has close ties with a number of US colleges and oversees the transition of some of its Academy graduates to the country.
In the last 14 years Right to Dream players have received more than $50m in US scholarships and several Ghana graduates have gone on to play in the MLS, including Ousseni Boudda, who currently plays for the San Jose Earthquakes.
However, speaking exclusively on the Training Ground Guru Podcast in February, Vernon explained that Right to Dream were looking to have their own the MLS team. He said the main motivation was to combat pay-to-play, which was “excluding a lot of kids of potential from making it.”
Welcoming San Diego to the MLS, Commissioner Don Garber said: “We are thrilled to welcome San Diego to Major League Soccer as our 30th team.
“For many years we have believed San Diego would be a terrific MLS market due to its youthful energy, great diversity, and the fact that soccer is an essential part of everyday life for so many people. Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Tribe have an incredible vision for building a club that will inspire and unite soccer fans throughout the city and region.”
Mansour is founder and chairman of Man Capital, the London-headquartered investment arm of the Mansour Group, which has a turnover of $6bn. In early 2021, Man Capital took a majority stake in Right To Dream after agreeing to invest $120m in the group.
Mansour, who is reported to be the seventh richest person in Africa, said: “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Sycuan Tribe to bring Major League Soccer to such a deserving community and legion of San Diego soccer fans.
“This is a real opportunity to create a powerful and lasting legacy for the city and region. We look forward to introducing Right to Dream’s unique developmental approach and unparalleled soccer expertise to San Diego and MLS by delivering tangible benefits to the community as we look to open doors and identify and nurture talent from across the county and beyond.”
The Sycuan Tribe has resided in and around San Diego for more than 12,000 years. Sycuan has been a long-term partner with several major institutions in the community, including the San Diego Padres, San Diego Symphony, Children’s Hospital and hundreds of local non-profits.
“What a proud moment this is for the city and the Sycuan Tribe to bring MLS to San Diego,” said Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez.
“Sycuan has deep roots to the San Diego community and found an incredible partner in Mohamed Mansour and the soccer expertise that he brings with Right to Dream.
"Sycuan continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to the San Diego region and our MLS team will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community through their passion for the game.”