SOME of the cream of English football will be in Darwen today ahead of the new Premier League season.
The town has been chosen as the North West venue for the official launch of the Barclays Premier League.
Stars including Manchester United captain Gary Neville, Blackburn Rovers vice skipper David Dunn, Phil Neville of Everton and Bolton’s Kevin Nolan will be in town.
They will be talking to the press about their teams’ chances in the new season, which begins this weekend.
The Blackburn Rovers Sports Arena at Darwen Vale School will host the event, where all clubs in the North West will be represented.
Similar events are being held in London and the North East.
Graham Harris, sports bookings manager at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “To get this in Blackburn with Darwen is a massive coup, because we are competing with areas like Manchester and Merseyside.”
The £1.35million sports arena was officially opened in January by Rovers stars Ryan Nelsen and Roque Santa Cruz.
The scheme benefited from a £600,000 grant from Barclays and the Football Foundation as part of the £30million Barclays Spaces for Sports initiative.
An extra £750,000 was provided in three £250,000 payments from Blackburn Rovers, Blackburn with Darwen Council and the school itself.
The arena’s ties with Premier League sponsor Barclays have led to it being chosen for today’s event.
A Premier League spokesman said the area’s handy location as a central point between the different clubs was also a factor.
The arena boasts a four-court indoor sports hall suitable for short tennis and bowling, a 20-station community fitness gym, a reception area, changing rooms and car parking.
It is used for Blackburn Rovers community projects, by the school for lessons and extra-curricular activities and by local sports groups in the community.