John Cove

Interim Chair

John is Chairman of the Milton Keynes Dons FC Sport and Education Trust - which develops and delivers education, health, inclusion and sporting projects to the whole of the local community. John also serves as a Director of the club.

He previously worked for Milton Keynes Council for over 22 years in a range of roles. For the last five years John held the position of Group Director, where he had responsibility for 'extended services' and a range of other activities including sport, leisure, libraries, arts, youth service, and economic development. John was also the lead for Milton Keynes Council in developing Stadiummk and was seconded to the Football Club as its Chief Executive for the first 18 months as MK Dons. For the last 9 years John has been Chief Executive of MK Dons SET. 

Dame Helena Shovelton

Dame Helena Shovelton is a non-executive board member of NHBC (National Housebuilding Council) and a trustee of Independent Age. Previously, she was Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation and has been the Chair of the Audit Commission, the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux and a member of the Competition Commission, as well as various other organisations. Helena has an MBA from Strathclyde University.

Brendon Batson OBE

Brendon started his football career in 1969 as an apprentice with Arsenal FC, the following year he was offered a professional contract with the club. In 1974 he transferred to Cambridge United where he was the club captain and led the team to promotion to what was then the old 3rd Division.

In 1978 Brendon transferred to West Bromwich Albion FC which was then in the 1st Division (now known as the Premier League) where he became not only a regular in the first team but one of the ‘Legends’ of the club. Unfortunately, in 1984 a knee injury forced Brendon into early retirement where he was immediately offered a position with the PFA progressing to Deputy CEO, a role he held until 2002. Brendon has held several positions within the PFA, including the Chairman of PFA Financial Management Ltd, Director of PFA Enterprises (the commercial arm of the PFA) and to this day remains a trustee.

In 2002 Brendon was approached to join the new board at West Bromwich Albion FC as MD, at the time newly promoted to the Premiership and has continued to have a very close relationship with the club.

As well as forming his own consultancy working across a range of areas generally around equality, coaching and financial support, Brendon has had active roles as Board Member and Chairman respectively with SGSA and Sporting Equals.

Currently Brendon is Chairman of the Professional Players Federation (PPF) which is a membership organisation made up of professional player unions across all sports, President of EU Athletes and a trustee of the PFA and the West Bromwich Albion FC Foundation.

Brendon was awarded the MBE and OBE for services to Football

Emeritus Professor Susan Capel

A keen sportswoman, Susan played basketball, cricket and hockey to a high level and now swims and walks regularly to keep fit. For almost thirty years, she has been involved in physical education teacher training, running both PGCE and undergraduate courses in the UK and the USA. Currently, she is Professor of Physical Education at Brunel University.

Alongside a PhD in physical education, Susan has published widely in a range of areas related to teacher training and physical education. That includes being co-editor of both Learning to Teach in the Secondary School; A Companion to School Experience and Learning to Teach Physical Education in the Secondary School; A Companion to School Experience.

Karen Creavin

In 2005, Karen took up a post at Birmingham City Council, initially as senior manager for the deprived Ladywood constituency. Whilst serving in the role, Karen established the award-winning pilot scheme for ‘Gym for Free’, in conjunction with a colleague from Heart of Birmingham PCT. This would later be rolled out as a city-wide ‘Be active’ programme. Karen was asked to project manage the scheme on behalf of partners throughout Birmingham, which went live on 1st September 2009, before quickly going on to win national and international awards.

Karen is now Head of Community Sport and Healthy Lifestyles at Birmingham City Council. She works with the Local Government Agency (LGA) on member training sessions and is a regular speaker at conferences and training sessions on the links between health, wellbeing and sport.

Helen McGrath

Helen is an accomplished senior manager. Her resilience, adaptability and drive, combined with her ability to think strategically - whilst also implementing practical processes, policies and procedures - has resulted in a successful track record of building high-performing teams to deliver significant improvements at reduced costs.

Helen joined Sainsbury’s 9 years ago and has progressed through the marketing division, scoping, designing and delivering successful campaigns across the marketing mix. This includes managing Sainsbury's sponsorship of the London 2012 Paralympic Games - winner of the Grand Prix prize at the Marketing Society awards. Said campaign delivered a lasting legacy and commitment to Paralympic sport - bringing communities together whilst also developing the company's Reward and Retention strategies. This was achieved, while also managing a team to deliver bespoke local marketing for hundreds of stores. In Helen’s current role she is responsible for Sainsbury’s brand strategy, setting out what Sainsbury’s will stand for over the next 3-5 years across the key pillars of the brand.

Helen is a strong believer in sport being the catalyst for changing lives, bringing communities together and driving social change.

Jonathan Hughes

Jonathan is a qualified barrister and, as Head of Sport at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was the Senior Civil Servant responsible for the whole of the Government’s sports policy between 2008 and 2011. This included oversight of all Government investment in sport through holding the Chairs and Chief Executives of Sport England, UK Sport and UK Anti-Doping to account for the way they spent the public money allocated to them. 

He is currently responsible for immigration enforcement policy at the Home Office. He was a keen rower and coach at university but now plays more tennis and golf, and is about to start training as a coach in the former. Jonathan lives in West Sussex and is also a trustee of Active Sussex, his local County Sports Partnership.

Peter Rowley OBE

Over the course of a 30-plus year career, Peter Rowley held numerous senior roles at various banks and building societies, before retiring as the Chief Executive of the Darlington Building Society in 2009, following 17 years in post. Since then, he has enjoyed a second career providing advice and guidance to a diverse range of private, public and not-for-profit clients.

He is Chairman of The Sports Council Trust Company, Chairman of British Weightlifting, the lead non-executive director of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, a trustee of Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, and a trustee of Tees Valley Community Foundation. He has served previously as a board member of Sport England, an independent member of UK Sport’s Audit Committee, chairman of SkillsActive UK and a director of Coachwise Ltd.

A Fellow of the Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility at Leeds Beckett University - undertaking Doctoral research into the board effectiveness of National Governing Bodies of Sport - he lectures in economics, finance and strategic management in sport at 3 universities and is a consultant on governance and assurance for 2 grant making trusts.

Peter believes passionately in the power of sport to change lives and communities for the better and received the OBE for services to sport administration in the New Year Honours List 2017.

Rosie Duckworth

Rosie is a solicitor and an associate at the law firm Macfarlanes in London. She advises on commercial contracts, intellectual property rights and sports governance. She has worked with clients across the sport, media & entertainment, advertising and retail sectors. Her work includes advising national and international sport governing bodies and clubs on major events, sponsorship and intellectual property matters, as well as on compliance with the UK Sport and Sport England Code for Sports Governance.

From an early age Rosie has been personally involved in a range of sports, including netball, gymnastics, swimming, sailing and skiing. She has played netball for her county and university.  Having gained so much from it herself, Rosie is a strong believer in the need to widen access to and increase participation in sport.  Rosie still plays netball whenever she can and also enjoys cycling, running and, most recently, touch rugby.

Mark Taylor

Mark is head of EMEA Financial Crime Compliance at Goldman Sachs International and is the Money Laundering reporting officer of a number of regulated entities. Mark has worked at Goldman Sachs for 20 years in a variety of Compliance roles. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 and was named managing director in 2007.

Prior to joining the firm, Mark was head of Compliance for Hambros Bank Limited. Earlier in his career, he worked at the Financial Services Authority, where he helped establish the Transaction Monitoring Unit. Mark was a director of UK Coaching Limited from 2008 to 2017, the United Kingdoms' leading development of coaching, and was chair of the Audit Committee. He is also chair of the Tim Lewis Trust, which currently supports Disability Karate, Make Someone Smile and Kidney Research. Mark was appointed as a director of StreetGames in 2017. Mark earned a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.