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Sunday, October 17, 1999 Published at 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK


Capacity boost for Wembley

The new plans means London will bid for the 2012 Olympics

The new Wembley stadium will have a capacity of 11,000 more than originally planned, according to The Observer newspaper.

The venue will hold hold 101,000 fans when it reopens for the 2003 FA Cup final, and will undoubtedly be seen as a boost not only for football but also for Britain's chances of staging the Olympic Games for the first time since 1948.

[ image: An artists impression of new-look Wembley]
An artists impression of new-look Wembley
According to the newspaper, the eleventh-hour expansion follows a behind-the-scenes battle between the Football Association, which now controls the stadium, and the British Olympic Association (BOA) over the stadium's capacity.

BOA's chief executive, Simon Clegg, said: "We have always maintained that the new Wembley should be a truly national stadium and not just a football stadium. We hope that the nation now gets the showpiece stadium it wants, and which we need to bid with any credibility for the Olympics."

Wembley's capacity is set to be rubber-stamped on Tuesday at an "emergency summit" hosted by Sport England (formerly the English Sports Council), attended by the FA, Wembley, BOA, UK Sports Council and Sport England.

If everything goes to plan the timetable for redevelopment will start next month with the submission of a planning application to Brent Council to demolish the existing stadium, including the Twin Towers.

By September 2000 the stadium would be closed for demolition and reconstruction, with the new stadium ready in time for the 2003 FA Cup final.

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