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UK Athletics' David Moorcroft
"We're not now looking at athletics at Wembley ever"
 real 14k

Leader of Brent council Paul Daisley
"I'm pleased that we've got somebody who's got the confidence of the FA running the project."
 real 14k

Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 11:45 GMT
Wembley too late for world athletics
The former new Wembley Stadium
Big plans for the new Wembley have been shelved
The planned new Wembley Stadium will not hold the World Athletics Championships in 2005, it was announced on Thursday.

New Wembley boss Sir Rodney Walker believes the stadium will not be ready until the middle of 2005.

That would not be soon enough for it to host the athletics championships.

However, Walker believes that athletics could still have a home at the new National Stadium in the longer term.

A series of practical issues prevent the new Wembley from hosting the 2005 world championships
  Sir Rodney Walker
Wembley boss

That would allow it to be part of any future bid by London to hold the Olympics.

Fears that the new ground would not be completed in time means that the 2005 World Championships will take place at the planned Lea Valley Stadium at Picketts Lock in Enfield, north-east London.

Walker, chairman of Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL), said: "Over the last three weeks I have had lengthy and very helpful meetings with almost all of the stakeholders in the Wembley project.

"I have been impressed with the support for the new stadium from all parts of the sporting community.

'Removing uncertainties'

"I have come to the conclusion that, while I have no doubt the new stadium can be completed by late 2004, a series of practical issues prevent the new Wembley from hosting the 2005 world championships.

"The championships will, as expected, take place at the planned Lea Valley Stadium at Picketts Lock.

"I have moved quickly to remove uncertainties for both the World Athletics Championships and Wembley.

"The FA and WNSL remain committed to producing the finest stadium in the world for the English sports fan."

The Lea Valley project will be the creme de la creme
  Dave Moorcroft, of UK Athletics

He had earlier told The Guardian newspaper on Thursday: "The problem is not about design, but time.

"There is a huge difference between a target date and the date you actually complete a stadium. It all depends on how quickly I can go to the banks and raise the cash."

The inclusion of athletics in the project for the new stadium has been the subject of much controversy since plans were first unveiled.

UK Athletics chief executive Dave Moorcroft pledged the Lea Valley stadium would be a "wonderful" venue for the championships.

He told BBC Five Live: "It is the complete package - a great venue for the World Athletics Championships.

"The Lea Valley project will be the creme de la creme. It's something we've not really experienced before. We've now got the opportunity to get it really right.

Talks on stadium design

"These facilities will be wonderful, not just for the championships, but for developing talent in the future."

The former plans to build a Wembley stadium mainly for football, incorporating restaurants and office blocks, have been shelved on the grounds of cost.

Sir Rodney added in his announcement that a true national stadium should be able to host athletics events.

He said: "I will be working with the stadium designers and Brent Council on a series of solutions to the athletics issues.

"Alongside them, I will be working with The Football Association, the WNSL management team and our bankers on revised costings and the associated business plan.

"It is likely that due diligence will be completed, and Wembley will be in a position to go back to the City in April."

Simon Clegg of the British Olympic Association said: "Our position is clear - any national stadium should be capable of holding athletics events."

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See also:

10 Jan 01 |  AudioVideo
Wembley woe continues
31 Dec 00 |  Football
Minister's rap for Wembley boss
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