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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Wembley decision delayed by elections
Artist's impression of Birmingham's proposed National Stadium
The popular Birmingham bid could be revived
A decision on the future of Wembley stadium has been delayed again - this time by the local elections.

The Football Association had been given until Tuesday to finalise the financing of the stadium at the Wembley site, or risk losing government support.

But on Tuesday the government said no announcement would be made until after 2 May and the local government elections in England.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it did not want to appear to be swaying voters with announcements on major investment in an area where elections are being contested.

Birmingham's bid

The DCMS has not said when a final announcement will be made but 7 May would be the earliest parliamentary opportunity.

The construction firm Multiplex is demanding proof from Wembley's backers that it has vital finances in place.

On Friday, Barclays Bank withdrew its bid to pay for the reconstruction programme, clearing the way for a rival German offer.

But the team behind Birmingham's bid to land the National Stadium has called for the government and the Football Association to take a fresh look at its proposals.

One of Wembley's twin towers
Wembley has been closed since 2000
Councillor Andy Howell, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "Wembley has had its time.

"With new bankers emerging and a board only established in just the last few days, it seems implausible that Wembley can meet the deadline, or indeed deliver a new national football stadium at any time."

Multiplex wants proof that Wembley's financial backers can find at least 300m.

The Wembley deadline of 30 April was originally set by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell together with the Football Association (FA).

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the end of April represented an "informal deadline driven by a need to get the project moving".

Paul Spooner, director of the Birmingham & Solihull Project Team, has now written to FA chief executive Adam Crozier highlighting Birmingham's capability to develop the National Stadium in the Midlands.

It's time for this sorry saga to enter a positive phase. It's time for Birmingham

Cllr Andy Howell

He has called on the FA to confirm its stated intentions to rescue discussions with Birmingham if the government withdraws its support for the Wembley option.

"Our proposal remains on the table with the government and the FA.

"We have a stunning, world-class design backed by National Exhibition Centre venue management expertise.

"Our planning application is ready to submit and we have continued to update our environmental assessment work with site surveys.

"In contrast, full planning permission has still not been granted for Wembley as details over the legal agreement have yet to be resolved."

Mr Howell added: "Its time for this sorry saga to enter a positive phase. It's time for Birmingham."

Throughout the bidding process, which dates back to 1995, Birmingham has been shown to be the preferred venue for the majority of football supporters and clubs.

Wembley has been mothballed since the last international football match was played there in late 2000.

See also:

26 Apr 02 | Business
Barclays abandons Wembley bid
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