FORMER Leigh MP Andy Burnham is returning to the town he served for 16 years as part of a drive to reduce homelessness.

The Greater Manchester mayor will be playing in a football game at Leigh Sports Village in which a celebrity team from his region will take on a side led by Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotherham.

The match, which will be held on Wednesday, May 30, has been organised to raise awareness of homelessness in the mayors’ areas.

Funds raised from the game will go towards charities and organisations that help people on the street such as Leigh’s Homeless Support Project and Compassion In Action.

Mr Burnham was one of the many people in the town left upset after the death of popular homeless man Chris Conlin, who died on his 31st birthday in November.

He said: “I was very sad when I heard about Chris because I used to see him a lot outside Tesco and he used to ask me to get him something hot to eat.

“It affected me a lot and I know people in the town were too.

“Homelessness is typically associated with only happening in city centres but it is clear that it is going on everywhere now.

“This game is about sending a really powerful message that Greater Manchester and Merseyside are fighting the issue together.

“It is a massive priority for me to tackle it in my role as mayor.”

Celebrity players taking part in the football match are set to be announced next week.

The event will also give Mr Burnham the chance to thank his former constituents in a short speech.

He added: “I am conscious that after 16 years I disappeared from my position as MP.

“I never really had the chance to say thank you to the people of Leigh for their brilliant support and I would like to do that at the game.

“It meant a great deal to have their support over the years and I wanted to put this event on at Leigh Sports Village as it is close to the town to show my appreciation.

“I would encourage people to come along on the to support a good cause.

“As we all know, games between the two cities can be feisty occasions so I am sure it will be a competitive and fun match.”

The Manchester Mayor’s XI v Liverpool Mayor’s XI game will kick off at 7.30pm on the night.

Tickets for the event cost £5 for adults and £3 for over 65s.

It was also free for children.

To order a ticket visit