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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 March 2007, 02:20 GMT
FA takes control of Wembley keys
The new Wembley Stadium
The rebuilding of Wembley Stadium has cost 757m
The Football Association has finally gained control of the new Wembley Stadium, more than a year after it was originally scheduled to open.

Construction firm Multiplex handed over the keys late on Friday, signalling an end to its 757m building work.

The FA said it was a "significant step" towards staging May's FA Cup final at the new north London complex.

Works were originally scheduled to finish in January 2006, and the cost of the project has increased dramatically.

Test events

In a statement on the FA website, chief executive Brian Barwick said the handover was a "significant step towards staging this year's FA Cup final and opening the new Wembley Stadium".

But he said confirmation of whether the final on 19 May would take place at Wembley would only be given after two "ramp-up events" of up to 60,000 capacity to test the facilities.

"We have been preparing for a very long time and are delighted to finally get inside the stadium," he added.

The first of two test events needed to get a safety certificate will be a community day for 60,000 people on 17 March.

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There will be a mini-football tournament on the day involving celebrity teams, and visitors will also help the organisers test facilities such as the turnstiles, escalators and toilets.

The second test event will be an England Under-21 match against their Italian counterparts on 24 March and, unless there are unforeseen problems, a safety certificate will be awarded in time for the FA Cup final to take place.

Tickets go on sale at 1500 GMT on 12 March for the Under-21 match with prices fixed at 10 and can be purchased on the FA website. The match will kick off at 1230 GMT.

Pop star George Michael is scheduled to play the first concert at the revamped stadium on 9 June.

Tom Kelly, an official of the GMB union, which represents many of the workers involved in the building work at the stadium, said the complex was a "wonderful memorial to the craftsmanship of the skilled workers" involved.

He added: "We are proud of it and we are certain that Wembley will stage many dramatic and memorable events in the future."

SEE ALSO
Wembley photos
02 Aug 06 |  Photo Galleries
Wembley Q&A
08 Mar 07 |  Football
Ticket rush for NFL Wembley game
07 Feb 07 |  American Football
Play-offs to miss out on Wembley
31 Jan 07 |  Football


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