Premier League champions Manchester United have a significant following in South Africa (Getty)

(WFI) The Premier League has teamed up with Barclays to develop the league’s first fan park outside the UK. Johannesburg will host the first Barclays Premier League Live event.

Up to 24,000 fans will be able to watch five live matches broadcast on a 100 metre square screen and meet EPL players at the Zoo Lake Sports Club in Johannesburg over two days – March 29 and 30.

Barclays Premier League Live is billed as “a free interactive experience designed for the entire family to enjoy”. There is capacity for 12,000 supporters each day and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. The live matches being screened on those two days include Arsenal v Manchester City and Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur.

Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore said: “Barclays Premier League Live is an exciting way to engage with fans around the world.

“What they love is the excitement of the football and the passion of the crowds and we think Barclays Premier League Live will be the next best thing to being at the ground.

“It is very fitting that we are debuting Barclays Premier League Live in South Africa because SuperSport are our longest standing international rights holder and have played a great role in bringing Premier League football to hundreds of millions of supporters right across sub-Saharan Africa.”

With every EPL match day broadcast to 212 territories and 804 million homes, the Premier League is said to be the biggest continuous annual global sports event in the world.

The Premier League said the new fan park “is all about rewarding those fans and showcasing the passion and excitement of Barclays Premier League matches and grounds”.

Barclays Premier League Live will be an annual event and next season will head to the USA and Asia for the 2015/16 season.

Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler and ex-Chelsea captain Marcel
Desailly will take part in the inaugural event. Mark Fish and Lucas Radebe, who along with Phil
Masinga were the first South Africans to play in the Premier League, are also participating.

Steven Pienaar, the South African who plays for Everton, said the Barclays Premier League Live will be a big hit.
“South African fans are very passionate about their football and this is
a great way for them to watch the Premier League. I am sure the people
will embrace it and it will be another special sporting occasion in my
country,” he said.

In Johannesburg, a number of zones are being set up to bring the Premier League competition to life:
• The Trophy Zone – fans can get up close with the Barclays Premier League Trophy.
• The Club Zone – supporters will be able to learn more about the 20 league clubs, and through green screen technology, will be able to picture themselves lifting the championship trophy decorated with the ribbons of their favourite club.
• The Screening Zone – visitors will experience the noise and excitement of match day before learning all about the winning teams and captains of the Premier League in this exclusive film.
• The Pitch Zone – a mini-football pitch where Premier League clubs will be conducting skills sessions with local football teams, while young fans get the chance to have a game of football run by Premier League community coaches.
• The Skills Zone – three football skills pods for supporters to test their accuracy, close control and shooting power.
• The Live Match Zone – the main arena where fans will watch the live matches on a 100 metre square screen, the biggest screen in South Africa.

Fans will also well served by areas offering food and beverages. Premier League sponsors and partners Barclays, EA Sports, Nike and Topps will have event stands as will a number of clubs, including Cardiff City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland.

Fans can keep up with the latest event developments at the website www.BPLLive.com can follow Twitter updates via @premierleague and the hashtag #BPLLive.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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