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Thursday, April 2, 1998 Published at 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK


Wembley Stadium sold to highest bidder

The stadium will be renovated for the 2006 World Cup bid

Wembley Stadium has been sold to the English National Stadium Trust for £103m, ending months of speculation about the future of Britain's famous sporting venue.

The ENST is backed by the Sports Council and the Football Association and supported by £120m of National Lottery money.

It plans to spend a further £140m renovating the stadium in time for England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

ENST found itself competing with Arsenal FC for ownership of the site, but the football club withdrew its bid last weekend when the deadline for acceptance of its offer ran out.

New revamped Wembley

The chairman of Wembley plc, Claes Hultman, said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement which will enable a new national stadium to be built at Wembley."

With shareholders' approval, contracts should be exchanged in June and the sale completed in 1999.

ENST expects to able to release full detailed plans for its design for the stadium in time for the completion of the sale. Building work is expected to begin straight after next year's FA Cup final.

Arsenal, which had bid around £100m for the famous stadium, is now expected to press head with plans to renovate its own Highbury stadium.

The English Sports Council gave Wembley until last Friday to agree in principle to a sale or lose out on its offer of £120m of lottery money towards the stadium make-over.

Wembley's other famous venues, the Arena and conference centre, will continue to be run by Wembley plc.

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