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Mills & Reeve LLP

Work 0344 880 2666

Mark Hovell

Work 0161 234 8810
Mills & Reeve LLP

Work Department



Mark’s role as an arbitrator for the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the last decade has seen him involved in some high-profile cases, including his appointment to the 2016 Olympic ad hoc Division in Rio. He has now been involved in nearly 200 arbitrations. Mark was also re-appointed as an arbitrator on the Sport Resolutions Panel (Chairpersons List) in 2011 and is now a member of the National Anti-doping Panel. Mark continues to advise various sports union organisations including The Professional Footballers’ Association and The Professional Players Federation. Mark has also represented a number of clubs, such as Manchester City, QPR, Preston and Norwich. He represents a number of high-profile sport and entertainment clients in negotiations relating to their image rights and marketability. Mark is a qualified insolvency practitioner and has been involved in over 60 formal and informal professional football, rugby and rugby league club insolvencies, including Portsmouth FC in 2010 and 2012. Mark was awarded the title Partner of the Year at the 2013 Manchester Legal Awards and received a special recognition award at the 2013 NW Football Awards. He is a lecturer/visiting professor on Sports Law and finance at Universities in Madrid and New York; for other Colleges in Rome, London and Timisoara.


Trained George Davies Solicitors LLP; qualified 1993; former head of corporate George Davies Solicitors LLP; licensed insolvency practitioner since 1999; arbitrator Court of Arbitration for Sport since 2002; managing partner George Davies Solicitors LLP 2007-13; Head of Sports at M&R since 2013; chair of Sports Industry Group (Pro Manchester) since 2013. Current directorships: Pro Manchester; the Manchester Football Association; the James Milner Foundation; The Factory Youth Zone.


R3 (fellow); ICArb; RexSport.


Hymers College, Hull; UMIST (1989 2(1) (Hons) Management Sciences); MMU (1991 CPE and LSF); BPP (1999 Insolvency Practitioner Finals).


Running, football, golf and parenting.

London: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)


Within: Sport

The 'very good' team at Mills & Reeve LLP is particularly strong in litigation and arbitration, though it also handles non-contentious regulatory matters and private client work. The 'quick-minded, very competent' Mark Hovell is 'a great lawyer' and 'very good to work with'; he heads the team jointly with consultant and Latin America expert Carol Couse, who is fluent in Spanish. Hovell acted for the English Football League (EFL) as a witness of fact during its financial regulatory dispute against Queens Park Rangers FC; he also advised the ITF on a legal challenge brought by a member of the ITF from India regarding proposed alterations to the Davis Cup and Federation Cup formats. Richard Santy represented Eniola Aluko in potential claims against the FA concerning racial discrimination. Other clients of the practice include the National Anti-Doping Panel, the FA and several national associations of sportspeople, such as the Professional Cricketers' Association.  'Fantastic' principal associate and commercial litigator Rachael Somerset is 'a pleasure to work with'.

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North West: Private client

Charities and not-for-profit

Within: Charities and not-for-profit

The ‘knowledgeable’ Paul Knight at Mills & Reeve LLP leads a cross-disciplinary charities team in Manchester. He provides ‘realistic solutions and pragmatic advice. He also takes the time to understand the client’s business and to listen to you as a client’. An impressive roster of clients include BBC Children in Need and the Manchester Young People’s Theatre.Mark Hovell has been leading the advice to the Greater Manchester Sports Partnership (GreaterSport aims to change lives through physical activity and sport). Recently the team has advised GreaterSport on sponsorship terms and has provided specialist charity law advice for inclusion in a report by GreaterSport to a football club on the club’s options for creating a new charitable foundation.

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North West: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)


Within: Leading individuals

Mark Hovell - Mills & Reeve LLP

Within: Sport

The ‘outstanding’ Mark Hovell  at Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘great for international arbitration work and is a vastly experienced lawyer’. He heads the sports team and is a noted arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport where he is known for his ‘very robust judgments’. Overall the team is ‘absolutely top-class’. Caroline Couse heads the Latin American desk and is experienced in football regulatory and commercial matters. Couse has a wide range of clients with a particular focus on Hispanic clients. Other areas of expertise include advising on women’s sport and on doping cases in football. The group represented Accrington Stanley footballer Patrick Lacey who failed an anti-doping test for cocaine. He was facing a four year ban from the sport. The firm did its own advocacy and managed to reduce the penalty to a 14-month ban instead. The department also acted for Wigan Rugby League Club Limited as it had been charged by the RFL with refusing to play a match. The matter was heard before the RFL and the team was successful in getting the fine and other penalties quashed.

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West Midlands: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)


Within: Sport

Mills & Reeve LLP is notably strong in contentious matters relating to employment, contracts and image rights. Mark Hovell   leads the practice and advises on image rights, doping cases and immigration matters, and also sits as an arbitrator. He recently advised Glasgow Rangers on obtaining permits for a number of non-EU players. Employment specialist Richard Santy   advised footballer Eniola Aluko on a racial discrimination claim against former manager Mark Sampson and assisted West Bromwich Albion with the departure of its former manager Tony Pulis. Associate Phil Hutchinson is experienced in sports litigation, primarily for rugby and football.

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