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The BBC's Gareth Jones, in Cardiff
"The Millenium Stadium is regarded as a state of the art sport facility"
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BBC Wales's Grahame Lloyd reports
"The FA Cup is the oldest and most prestigious football competition in the world"
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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 07:50 GMT
FA Cup heads for Cardiff
Millennium stadium
State of the art stadium for FA Cup final
The Millennium Stadium is due to be confirmed as the venue for the 2001 FA Cup final.

The Football Association has revealed the world's oldest and most prestigious domestic trophy will be played at the venue in Cardiff while Wembley is being rebuilt.

The decision will be confirmed in a statement by the FA on Thursday.

The Millennium Stadium was vying with several contenders for the final, which is expected to be watched on 12 May by a global audience of more than two billion people.

The Welsh venue will also play host to the next three Worthington Cup finals and Charity Shield games, as well as the Nationwide League play-offs.

The FA have always made it clear that the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is our preferred option

The FA's Paul Newman

The England national team will meanwhile continue with their plans to embark on a tour of club grounds around the country until the new Wembley has finally been completed.

The Football Association and Football League hope Wembley will be ready to host matches again from the 2004 FA Cup final onwards, but extra delays in the troubled project could result in future renegotiations with Cardiff.

FA head of communications Paul Newman said: "The FA have always made it clear that the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is our preferred option for staging the FA Cup final while Wembley is being rebuilt.

"We are delighted that lengthy negotiations are now near to a successful conclusion and we expect to make an official announcement at midday on Thursday."

The 120m stadium in Cardiff was built with the aim of hosting some of the UK's biggest sporting events, including the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations championship.

FA Cup
FA Cup is a coup for Cardiff
But the prospect of attracting the FA Cup Final - one of the sporting calendar's top events - had been clouded by concerns over the state of the pitch.

The city's Lord Mayor, Russell Goodway, warned in December that the National Assembly for Wales had not done enough to secure the competition in Cardiff.

Goodway had sought assurances that 1.5m would be forthcoming to attract the FA Cup to Cardiff for the next three years, while the new 475m Wembley Stadium is built.

Manchester United have optimistically booked hotel rooms in Cardiff in advance of the Cup final.

The prospect of the event has been welcomed by the city's traders and Wales football manager Mark Hughes, who holds a record four FA Cup winners' medals.

Hughes has also welcomed the Football Association of Wales' joint bid for the European Championships in 2008, along with Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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See also:

25 Oct 00 | Business
Wembley costs 'escalate'
08 Jul 00 | Wales
FA Cup for the Millennium
30 May 00 | Wales
FA Cup bid for Wales
04 Jan 01 | FA Cup
Millennium promise for cup final
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