FOOTBALL fans have been urged not to drink and drive ahead of the World Cup, which kicks off on Thursday.

England’s first game in Brazil is against Italy on Saturday, but with an 11pm kick-off, the temptation to drive home or to drive early the following day could be high.

Fire and police services in East Lancashire have joined forces with the county’s police and crime commissioner to provide safety messages to those staying up late to watch the matches.

And special awareness events have been arranged by the fire service to warn people of the dangers of drinking and driving, with demonstrations of cutting people out of cars and handing out free keyrings and air fresheners.

They will be in Broadway, Accrington, and Castle Street, Clitheroe, on Friday, and King William Street, Blackburn, on Saturday.

Chief fire officer Chris Kenny said: “If you have had a heavy night drinking, you may still be over the limit the next morning. If you drive you could be prosecuted, so don't risk it.

“Remember it takes your liver an hour to process one unit of alcohol and flush it out of your system.”

Meanwhile, police have issued guidelines to pubs throughout East Lancashire in a bid to minimise problems.

Sgt Jason Middleton, licensing officer for Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley, has written to a large number of pubs in the region to offer advice.

It includes the use of polycarbonate glasses, high door staff levels, extra glass collectors and checking CCTV is in working order.

The letter states that if the guidelines are not followed and there is a ‘serious incident’, the police could consider prosecutions.

He said: “We are not forcing these on any pub, they are simply guidelines. We are not here to spoil it or say people can’t do this or that, we are saying ‘let’s work together’.”

A poster campaign warning fans of the dangers of football-related drink and violence has also been launched across Lancashire and police will be out in force when England are playing.

Sgt Middleton said: “There will be plenty of police on duty on England matchdays. We will be concentrating on the busier premises and speaking to licensees.”