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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Wembley rivals demand compensation
An illustration of the new Wembley stadium design
A "secret" deal was made over the Wembley plans
Two teams bidding to build a new national stadium in the Midlands are calling for 620,000 compensation amid claims they were "misled" by the Football Association (FA).

Backers of the schemes in Birmingham and Coventry thought they stood a chance of success if plans for the new stadium in London fell through.

But it has emerged the FA intended to simply revamp the existing Wembley stadium in the event of a new London arena failing to get the go-ahead.

Now teams behind the two Midlands bids are calling for compensation because they claim their projects never stood a chance of being accepted.

Explanation demanded

FA company secretary Nic Coward told the Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday there was a "staging agreement" with Wembley National Stadium Ltd if the redevelopment plans failed.

The deal meant the stadium would be reopened, he said.

Organisers of the Birmingham bid have written to the FA's chief executive, Adam Crozier, asking for an explanation.

"Given the public money spent in the West Midlands in preparing our bid I cannot believe you would have misled us in this way," the letter said.

"As a matter of urgency please would you explain why important information has only now become apparent."

'Recompense' plea

Paul Spooner, director the Birmingham bid, said: "Not only do we feel badly let down by the announcement but we feel the whole process had been undermined.

"The very least the Football Association should do is recompense the West Midlands for the public money that went into the project, which everybody agrees was the best project."

The team spent 500,000 putting together the Birmingham bid and another 120,000 was spent by the Coventry group.

But the FA has rejected the allegation it misled the Birmingham and Coventry bidders.

In an open fax to Mr Spooner, Adam Crozier insisted an arrangement to reuse the old Wembley stadium had been common knowledge from the beginning.

The fax stated: "All the key stakeholders and the Carter review team were aware of The FA staging agreement with Wembley as it was very clearly part of the original lottery agreement."

The Wembley redevelopment plans have been dogged by repeated delays.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell told the Commons earlier this month there was a further delay over the project after the FA had not met its 30 April deadline to finance the plan.


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