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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 13:17 GMT
Assembly provides FA Cup cash
Millennium stadium
State of the art stadium for FA Cup final
The Welsh Assembly is to provide 500,000 to help with the costs of staging FA Cup finals and other football events at the Millennium Stadium over the next three years.

Assembly finance minister Edwina Hart announced that the money would be equally divided between Millenium Stadiumplc and Cardiff County Council.

She said the events were a major opportunity to raise the profile of the stadium, Cardiff, Wales, and sport in general.

The money will be paid in the current financial year and the situation reassessed in the autumn.

Ms Hart said support was being given to the stadium and the council to help with the "extraordinary costs" associated with staging high-profile events.

It is understood that the stadium will give the assembly a breakdown of income and expenditure associated with the forthcoming sporting events.

The Millennium Stadium has been confirmed as the venue for the FA Cup final for the next three years.

The home of Welsh rugby will also play host to the FA Charity Shield matches, the Worthington Cup finals and the Football League play-off finals.

FA Chief Executive Adam Crozier
Adam Crozier: Delighted
The decision was confirmed by the FA chief executive Adam Crozier, following lengthy and complex negotiations.

"We are grateful to the stadium authorities, local council and the police for their help in reaching a successful conclusion," said Mr Crozier at the time.

"As we saw during the Rugby World Cup in 1999, the Millennium Stadium generates a unique atmosphere - the kind of atmosphere we believe is ideal for the FA Cup final and Charity Shield."

When the decision was announced back in January, First Minister Rhodri Morgan confirmed that tax payers' money would be used to help with the staging of such events.

He said the level of assembly support would depend on a detailed analysis of the benefits for Wales.

Mr Morgan said he hoped the success of domestic competitions in Cardiff might pave the way for Uefa to stage European cup competitions at the stadium.

Mr Morgan said there were potential benefits for the tourism industry and inward investment by businesses.

This year's final on 12 May is expected to be watched by a global audience of more than two billion people.

Today is a very happy day for us. We know that Wales will be put on the soccer map

Rhodri Morgan
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 is 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.

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.

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 assembly for had not done enough to secure the competition in Cardiff.

FA Cup
FA Cup is a coup for Cardiff
Councillor 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.

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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