Vernon steps down as CEO of Right to Dream after 25 years

Tom Vernon (left) with new Right to Dream CEO Dan Dickinson

Tom Vernon (left) with new Right to Dream CEO Dan Dickinson

TOM VERNON has stepped down as CEO of Right to Dream after 25 years and will now take on a Senior Advisor role as Executive Vice Chairman.

Vernon started Right to Dream in Ghana in 1999, with the first 16 players living in his house. Now the group has Academies in Denmark, Egypt, Ivory Coast and the USA, as well as in Ghana.

There are also girls’ Academies and professional clubs (FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark's Superliga and San Diego in the MLS), plus a well-developed link-up with Colleges in the United States.

Vernon will remain as Chairman of FC Nordsjaelland, while “achieving a well-deserved family balance while still guiding us as a senior advisor,” Right to Dream said. Dan Dickinson, a decade-long Board member of Right to Dream, will take over as CEO. Dickinson has also served on the Board of the US Olympic and Paralympic Foundation

Mohamed Mansour, the Founder and Chairman of Man Capital, which owns Right to Dream, said: “It was he [Dan] who first introduced my son Loutfy and me to Right to Dream in Ghana over 10 years ago. Dan is steeped in Right to Dream, he understands the organisation intimately and will hit the ground running as our new CEO.”

Vernon said: “In Mr Mansour, Loutfy Mansour and my great friend Dan Dickinson, Right to Dream has one of the most progressive ownership and leadership groups in world football. I now look forward to focusing my energy on advising our clubs and Academies, particularly in Ghana, where our culture and concept originated.”

Dickinson added: “It’s such a privilege to be able to follow in Tom’s footsteps and lead this great organisation. I look forward to working with the Board and the teams as we make an unprecedented investment in Right to Dream and take the organisation forward while staying true to its core values and mission.”

Vernon was our guest on Episode #47 of the TGG Podcast (which you can listen to below), explaining, in-depth, the origins and philosophy of Right to Dream.

The Englishman, who was previously a scout in Africa for Manchester United, said: “I started Right to Dream from very humble beginnings, with the first 16 players we picked moving into our house. It was a real grassroots effort.

“At the same time I was seeing how European football was getting it wrong and that caused a lot of unlearning and re-learning for me as a white English guy trying to have an impact in Africa. They had an extractive mindset, which was that you can set something up, take the pieces you want and discard the rest.”

Outlining what Right to Dream had grown into, and the overarching beliefs of the organisation, he said: “The philosophy at Academy level is that we believe in development of excellent culture through our character programmes and our purpose programmes.

“We believe in the development of excellence in academics through our curriculums and pathways. And we obviously believe in excellence in development in football.

“So it’s a holistic model to development that is long-term commitment for every child and then trying to create the right pathway for every kid coming through our Academies, not just the ones who get into football.

“But obviously Right to Dream has gone into purchasing clubs as well. We bought our first club seven years ago now, in Denmark with FC Nordsjaelland. There, we see our clubs to continue those principles I outlined at Academy level, but also we see ourselves as Universities of football, where you can take that final step before going out.

And then the last big piece of Right to Dream: we think our broader brand and message has potential to inspire people who maybe aren’t in professional football. We believe everyone has the right to dream, and that’s every person on the planet.”

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