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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 16:29 GMT
Wembley set to open in March 2006
The new Wembley will be completed in early 2006
The new Wembley will open in March 2006 with an England Under-21 match or a schoolboy international.

The 2006 FA Cup final had been expected to be the first fixture at Wembley following its redevelopment.

The Football Association needs to stage an event with only half to two-thirds of the 90,000 capacity in attendance.

A full test of the stadium's safety, organisational and power systems must be carried out before Wembley will be awarded its safety certificate.

Wembley chief executive Michael Cunnah said: "The stadium will basically be ready by the end of January.

"But before we have the first official match, the FA Cup final, we will stage a couple of 'soft events' in order to gain the safety certificate from Brent Council.

The work (at Wembley) will be finished on schedule
Wembley chief executive Michael Cunnah

"These events will probably be an England Under-21 international and possibly a schoolboy international.

"There will be a crowd of between 30,000 and 60,000, which will enable us to test all the facilities - but not at full capacity."

The redevelopment of the stadium is costing 757m and Multiplex, the firm that has agreed a fixed-cost contract to build the stadium, had recently said it did not expect to make an overall profit from the deal.

Multiplex would have profited from finishing the work ahead of schedule but Cunnah does not think this will happen.

"From what Multiplex have told us we do not anticipate them finishing early but the work will be finished on schedule," added Cunnah.

The new Wembley will be the largest stadium in the world in which all the seats are covered.

It will have a retractable roof covering the seating areas - but not the pitch - which can be opened to allow sun, wind and rain on to the turf when events are not being staged.


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