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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 17:52 GMT
Feng shui expert tackles stadium 'jinx'
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
The stadium has become home to all the major finals
Managers of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff have enlisted the help of an expert in feng shui to try to break the jinx on teams using one of its dressing rooms.

They have called in a doctor in the Chinese art to carry out a blessing ceremony at the stadium after eight teams who all used the unlucky south dressing room lost in consecutive finals.

We're not trying to make Cambridge win, we're just trying to redress the balance so everything is fair

Paul Darby

Since it opened three years ago to host the 1999 World Rugby Cup, the stadium has become a home for the UK's major soccer finals - including the FA and Worthington Cups - while Wembley is being rebuilt.

Among the teams to fall foul of the south dressing room "curse" have been Premier Division big names Arsenal and Birmingham City.

Last month Tottenham Hotspur lost two-one in this year's Worthington Cup final to Blackburn

Now, in a move backed by the Football League, the stadium has called in the expert in feng shui - the Chinese art of positioning objects, buildings and furniture to maximise positive energy - to carry out a blessing ahead of the next sporting final to be held there this weekend.

Paul Darby, 52, who is based in Nottingham, will perform the ceremony at the city centre ground on Tuesday.

"The unlucky south dressing room will be given the full feng shui treatment ahead of the Football League's LDV Vans Trophy final between Blackpool and Cambridge on Sunday," stadium chiefs confirmed in a statement.

A Liverpool supporter during last year's FA Cup Final
A Liverpool supporter during last year's FA Cup Final

The ceremony will include the scattering of incense and sea-salt, redecorating the room, lighting candles and Buddhist chanting.

"We're not trying to make Cambridge win, we're just trying to redress the balance so everything is fair," said Mr Darby.

"The team which has had the southern dressing room and whose fans have been in the southern stand have always lost, and because Cambridge is further south than Blackpool, they've been given the south of the stadium.

Management at the Millennium Stadium believe the south dressing room's losing record is just a statistical quirk.

Statistical anomaly

But they are determined that it will give no side a psychological advantage on the pitch.

"In reality there is no physical difference between the two dressing rooms and it is only a matter of time before this statistical anomaly is broken," sad stadium manager Bob Evans.

But he added:" If anybody does identify the reason for teams winning when based in the north dressing room, perhaps they could inform the Welsh Rugby Union as the secret currently eludes us."

However, the Football League has backed the feng shui blessing.

"Superstition has always been a part of football," said the league's communications manager John Nagle.

"Managers often talk about winning the psychological battle before they take to the pitch and the Millennium Stadium is being sensitive to this issue.

"We don't believe there is a 'hoodoo' over the south end and sure the best team will win on the day, but we're equally sure a bit of feng shui won't do anyone any harm."

Paul Darby
"I'm not favouring Cambridge, all I'm trying to do is even out the odds"
BBC Wales' Jason Mohammad
"Every team based in the south dressing room has lost"
See also:

04 Jan 01 | Wales
FA Cup heads for Cardiff
07 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Whitehall snubs feng shui
08 Mar 01 | Media reports
Feng shui booms in China
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