International football coming to borough as stadium is picked to host matches in UEFA Women's Euro 2021 tournament
Top-flight sport is coming to the borough after a stadium was announced as one of the locations where the UEFA Women's Euro 2021 football tournament will be staged.
The Leigh Sports Village (LSV) is one of nine venues across the country where the finest female footballers on the continent will battle it out for silverware.
Other news: A famous borough name is back!
Women's football is currently one of the fastest-growing team sports in the country, with audiences of up to 11 million people tuning in on TV this summer to watch England's Lionesses battle to the semi-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in France.
And the news that the European championships will be coming to Leigh has been greeted with considerable excitement.
The tournament's arrival in the borough is another major sporting coup for the LSV, which has previously staged matches in the Rugby League World Cup and is scheduled to host games again when the 13-a-side code's biggest international showpiece is next staged.
The stadium is also the home of Manchester United Women, who have just been promoted to the Women's Super League.
Leigh has stepped up to the plate after Nottingham Forest's stadium The City Ground became unavailable due to planned refurbishments during the summer of 2021.
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux said: "This is a really exciting time for the sport, with the euphoria of the World Cup and the incredible performance of our Lionesses fresh in people's minds.
"We feel incredibly proud and privileged to be providing a venue for such a prestigious event for women's football and for England.
"Being a host doesn't start and end at the stadium, for us it's about building a lasting legacy for our residents. And Wigan borough has a proven track record of success when it comesto hosting top class sporting events such as this.”
Players have also spoken of their excitement at the European Championships being hosted by Leigh and the other towns and cities across the UK.
England international and Manchester United Women defender Abbie McManus said: "The support we received from fans this summer was incredible, and to know that we have a Euro on home soil in two years’ time is a huge motivation to work hard and remain focused, both on and off the pitch.
"I’m sure that Leigh Sports Village and the other eight venues across the country will provide amazing settings for Euro games, and we look forward to being able to experience the roar of a home crowd in the summer of 2021.”
Currently it is not known which games will be hosted at the LSV, with the qualifying process to decide which 15 countries will join hosts England in the final stages about to kick off.
The tournament's arrival in the borough was celebrated on Thursday afternoon with an event involving McManus and goalkeeper Mary Earps taking part in skills sessions with youngsters from Leigh Genesis football club.
It is hoped the tournament in July 2021 will be another record-breaker for women's football, with around 700,000 tickets expected to go on sale.
Baroness Sue Campbell, The FA’s Director of Women’s Football, said: “The performance of the Lionesses this summer engaged the nation and helped to generate significant momentum in the women’s game.
"Looking ahead, hosting a home Euro in 2021 offers a huge opportunity for us to continue to push the profile of women’s football and to inspire more women and girls to get involved in the game.
"The confirmation of these nine venues is an important milestone for us as a host nation on our journey towards the final tournament in July 2021. I am confident that the selected cities and stadia will allow hundreds of thousands of fans across the country to attend matches and will also help to deliver an atmosphere befitting of a home European Championship to the nation.”
The showpiece final will be staged at Wembley Stadium.
The other venues which have been chosen are: Bramall Lane in Sheffield, Brentford Community Stadium in London, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium in Brighton and Hove, Manchester City Academy Stadium, New York Stadium in Rotherham, Stadium MK in Milton Keynes and St Mary's Stadium in Southampton.