ONE YEAR after crowds of Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, and Swiss fans lined the streets of Leigh, the Women's Euros is believed to have created a buzz about town, not only at the time but for years to come.

Working alongside UEFA and the FA, Wigan Council was successful in bringing the Women's Euros to Leigh last summer, in what was the first experience of being a host town in such a major international event.

The council's bid was ultimately successful due to the facilities of Leigh Sports Village and the fact that it was already the home of Manchester United Women, but the impact that the tournament had is believed to benefit both the women's game and the town for generations.

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Leigh Journal: Portugal fans at Leigh Sports VillagePortugal fans at Leigh Sports Village (Image: PA)

Electric atmosphere seen across Leigh

Hosting four games at the tournament, there was an electric atmosphere in Leigh last summer. Not only was this felt at the Sports Village matches, but also in the pre-game fan zone at Civic Square and particularly as streams of fans paraded down Market Street and onto the ground.

As supporters were welcomed and accommodated by Leythers before the well-attended group games, the council said that there were hugely positive compliments both from international fans, and UEFA and the FA, related to how the tournament was hosted.

The fact that the Lionesses went on to win the Euros as a host nation, and with Tyldesley star Ella Toone playing such a huge role in this, meant that all the boxes were ticked to kickstart a huge boost to the women's game locally and across the country.

Leigh Journal: Ella Toone after her final equaliser at WembleyElla Toone after her final equaliser at Wembley (Image: PA)

Boost to girl football numbers and local economy

Providing evidence of the tournament's success, Wigan Council said that there have been hundreds more girls taking up opportunities to play football over the past 12 months, with dozens of teams in different age groups launching across the borough.

And highlighting the sustained appetite for the game, attendances for Manchester United Women at Leigh Sports Village have not only increased but continued at this level throughout last season - again helped by the fact that town hero Toone is a major part of this team.

Leigh Journal: Attendances have massively increased for Manchester United Women gamesAttendances have massively increased for Manchester United Women games (Image: PA)

With a surge of visitors staying in borough hotels and spending money at local businesses around the time of the tournament, Wigan Council estimates that the Euros boosted the local economy by more than £6 million last year, while also leaving a cultural impact on the town.

For example, following the positive atmosphere in the fan zones, the council is now looking to use Civic Square to host further events throughout the year, such as the King's Coronation back in May and Christmas light switch-ons.

From a community perspective, the tournament also led to the creation of, which was set up by local business owners to highlight the collection of venues and businesses to visit.

On top of this, there is also the added enthusiasm for the town and borough to host tournaments of this scale again, which happened almost instantly with Wigan and Leigh hosting games for the Rugby League World Cup back in November.

Leigh Journal: The council said Leigh can build on the success of the Euros and use Civic Square for events such as the King's CoronationThe council said Leigh can build on the success of the Euros and use Civic Square for events such as the King's Coronation (Image: Leigh Journal)

Women's Euros 'put Leigh on the map'

Reflecting on the impact of the tournament, Deputy Leader of Wigan Council and councillor for Leigh Central, Keith Cunliffe, said: "The council had such a huge opportunity to bid for the Women's Euros and put Leigh on the map, because we had the facilities available for it.

"The town was really buzzing and it was all everyone was talking about last year. With that typical friendly Leigh approach [in the fan zones], it gave the fans a great impression of the town

"A lot of pride came out and that momentum has continued with the attendances for Manchester United women, the Rugby League World Cup in Wigan and Leigh, and the success of Leigh Leopards this season.

"[We can see it as] a catalyst for investment and to encourage businesses to come to Leigh too, along with our other developments like Leigh Youth Hub and at Pennington Flash.

"We have never hosted anything of that scale before, and the fact that everyone was delighted with it, and seeing how impressed the fans and organisations were, it stands us in really good stead going forward.

"I think we should be really proud."

Leigh Journal: Crowds of Dutch fans next to the Pete Shelley mural in last year's fan zoneCrowds of Dutch fans next to the Pete Shelley mural in last year's fan zone (Image: Leigh Journal)