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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 00:08 GMT
Wembley game 'sold out' in hours
Wembley Stadium
Wembley is poised to be the venue for the 2007 FA Cup final
Tickets for the first competitive match at London's rebuilt Wembley stadium sold out within hours of going on sale, the Football Association said.

Demand for 60,000 10 tickets for England's under-21s match against Italy was so great, the FA's website crashed for a time when the sale began.

The 24 March match is a test event which is hoped will allow a safety certificate to be issued.

It would enable Wembley to stage May's FA Cup final before a 90,000 crowd.

The FA said tickets had been selling at the rate of 6,000 an hour and early problems with the website had been fixed.

Record crowd

The FA said it was "delighted" that the first game had been sold out.

A spokesman said: "This is the largest ever under-21s crowd in world football history.

"We appreciate that there was a huge, huge volume of traffic applying for tickets when they were made available.

"Obviously it was frustrating for everyone who wanted to keep trying. It did speed up very quickly.

"I think this shows just how much the whole of England is waiting with anticipation for all the games to be held at Wembley."

The FA said the 60,000 crowd was 25,000 more than the previous best for an under-21 match, which saw England draw 1-1 with France at White Hart Lane in November 2005.

Meanwhile, Kevin Miles, from the Football Supporters' Federation, called the FA's decision to offer cut price tickets for the Wembley game "a very welcome step".

"Clearly the FA are taking notice of the growing feeling among supporters that action needs to be taken on prices for top price games," he said.

"It's very pleasing that the first England game at Wembley sets a tone like this and long may it continue."

The 24 March game is one of two "ramp-up" events that will enable the 757m stadium to test its facilities and obtain a safety certificate from Brent Council.

The first "ramp-up" event, also with a 60,000 capacity, is a Community Day primarily for local Brent residents to visit and view the facility on 17 March.

Keys handover

If these events are a success they will pave the way for the FA Cup Final to be held there, with a full crowd capacity, on 19 May.

Construction firm Multiplex handed over the keys to the stadium to the FA on Friday, signalling an end to building work.

The project has been dogged by delays and increasing costs and will open more than a year late.

The old Wembley, which opened in 1924, closed in 2000 and was demolished in 2002.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick described the handover of the keys as a "significant step" towards staging the FA Cup Final.

The first concert scheduled for the revamped stadium is set to be by George Michael on 9 June.




SEE ALSO
FA takes control of Wembley keys
10 Mar 07 |  Football
Wembley Q&A
10 Mar 07 |  Football
Wembley photos
10 Mar 07 |  Photo Galleries

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