Episode 1 – Introduction to MCOs + The Pozzo Group (here)
Episode 2 – City Football Group (here)
The story of FC Nordsjaelland begins back in 1999 when Tom Vernon, then a scout for Manchester United, decided to set up his own football academy in Ghana. He named it the Right To Dream academy, and whilst football was a key part – the boys in the academy were also given education and character lessons and has rapidly grown, with an incredible 30,000 trialists annually. The academies first sessions were taken on a dust pitch, but has seen a rapid expansion with a move into a $2.5m purpose built facility back in 2010.
The academy is seen as one of the best in the world, with the U15 and U18 teams embarking on a European tour in 2015 – where they went an incredible 42 games unbeaten. Players from the academy often move to Europe or America (Right to Dream graduate Abu Danladi was recently named as number 1 pick for the 2017 MLS SuperDraft) once their time at Right to Dream has ended, with MLS star David Accam and Lorient striker Abdul Majeed Waris being two recent graduates who have since gone on to play in World Cups, it’s at this point that Tom Vernon begin to expand his vision. Fed up with seeing graduates leave to smaller European teams for a few hundred thousand pounds fees before being re-sold for millions a season or two later, Vernon decided expansion was necessary.
In December 2015 Danish club FC Nordsjælland were taken over by a group of investors, headed by Tom Vernon. The club were partly chosen for their record of bringing youth through their academy into the first team and gives the players at the Right To Dream academy another rung on the ladder to climb and Vernon has the dream of fielding a team for Nordsjælland made up entirely of academy players, whether they be from Nordsjælland or Right To Dream. Vernon’s vision doesn’t seem too unrealistic with an incredible 19 players so far this season having started their career with either Nordsjælland or Right To Dream, with more than 30 others now playing professionally in Europe.
Education is also a big part of the Right to Dream model, allowing kids of any gender to get an education that otherwise most likely would’ve been out of reach, with the added bonus of potentially becoming a star.
Whilst the Right to Dream model isn’t as large or as “commercial” like the other models we’ve looked at, I could definitely see some of the larger clubs emulating their success in the future – Manchester City are already huge fans of the Right To Dream academy with 10 players moving to the Man City youth teams since the 2010/2011 season. With the booming costs of high level players, recreating such an academy would surely be worthwhile for big name clubs as just one player making the first team of a club like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Chelsea would mean a saving of anywhere in the region of £30-£100m – essentially paying for the entire operation many times over.