CLUB bosses have spoken about a "hugely significant moment for football" after 3,000 Muslims were welcomed onto the pitch to pray at Ewood Park.

Blackburn Rovers chief executive Steve Waggott said the move to be the country’s first football club to host Eid Prayers on the pitch was just the latest in a long string of initiatives implemented by the club to attract a new wave of supporters.

On Monday, more than 3,000 local Muslims, as well as many others from further afield, brought their prayer mats to Ewood Park for the Eid Salaah prayers, which celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Mr Waggott said: “I think this is a hugely significant moment for football. Not just for Blackburn Rovers, but for football in general.

“We’ve all suffered over the past two years through Covid and social restrictions, so to see all the families – some or most who would never think about coming to Ewood Park – walking in here today was just wonderful to see.

"Now that they’ve seen it and they’ve had a lovely time, hopefully they want to come back.

“We’re the first club to ever host the Eid prayer on the pitch, which is great, but it follows on from the last few years of having a prayer room installed, having alcohol-free bars, having Halal food, launching an Ewood Express service to bring young people and families to the stadium; all the things we have to do to attract a new wave of supporters from our South Asian community.”

The prayers and sermon were led by Sheikh Wasim Kempson, who then invited Rovers’ Chief Executive Steve Waggott and the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Councillor Derek Hardman, to address the packed pitch of worshippers.

The special celebratory event, which was supported by Eid in the Park, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and The Catering Co, was the first of its kind in the UK and received widespread acclaim both on social media and throughout the Muslim community around the world.

Imam Wasim Kempson added: “It’s a great opportunity for the Muslim community to work with different organisations in their own community.

"Here we’re very grateful for Blackburn Rovers to open their doors, literally, for us to pray on the pitch and it shows the great engagement the local community has with the football club and it goes vice-versa.

“This is a good example for all clubs around the country to show they’re taking on diversity and moving forward and engaging with the local community and we can work together on so many different things.”

Rovers’ Integration and Development Manager, Yasir Sufi, added: “At Blackburn Rovers, we’re big believers we’re ‘one club, one town, one community’ and if ever there’s an event that signifies that, this is it!

“It just shows the club is open to everyone from all communities and whatever the occasion, we can celebrate it together.

“The fact so many thousands turned up for an event like this, it just shows how big a part Blackburn Rovers – and any football club – has to play in welcoming its community around the stadium into the ground and the most important thing now is that the people who have attended here today know that the stadium is open to them.”