Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:13 UK

Wembley Stadium owner posts loss

Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium's arch dominates the north London skyline

The owner of Wembley Stadium has posted an operating loss before interest and tax of 21.2m for 2007 - the first year it was open for business.

But as it opened in March, Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) said the results covered only nine months of trading.

The north London stadium was due for completion in August 2005, but its development was beset by problems.

Its owner expects to make an operating profit in 2008.

"It has been a challenging and incredibly rewarding first year," said Wembley Stadium's managing director, Alex Horne.

"It was never envisaged that the stadium would record a profit in the first few years of operation and the cost-base in the first few months of operating reflects the nature of a start-up business," he added.

He said the firm had spent the year focusing on getting to know the building "after a very quick handover from the builders; dealing with teething problems; and deliberately over-servicing its early events".

'On target'

WNSL said it was generating sufficient cash flow to make all interest and loan repayments on time.

It added it had repaid the banks 80m of its 426.4m debt, and would repay the rest by September 2018 "despite increasingly difficult market conditions".

Wembley Stadium's revenue for its nine-month trading period in 2007 was 65.5m, principally from its season ticket holders, ticket sales, sponsorship and catering.

The costs associated with this income were 34.2m, which the company said were "understandably high" for its first months of trade.

The company also spent 21m on staff, security and contracts to maintain and manage the building and 10.1m on the final stages of its construction.

The stadium has seating for 90,000 people and has hosted Madonna and an American Football league game besides its core football and rugby league events since it opened.

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