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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
FA confirms new delays at Wembley
The new Wembley Stadium
Wembley was originally meant to host the FA Cup final on 13 May
The Football Association has confirmed another delay in the Wembley project after revealing all matches planned for 2006 will be moved to other venues.

Work on the stadium will not be completed in time for an England friendly in August and two Euro 2008 qualifiers in September and October.

The Community Shield on 13 August will be moved - probably to Cardiff.

An FA statement said: "It is clear that the construction of Wembley Stadium is significantly behind schedule."

Rugby League's Challenge Cup final on 26 August has also been moved to Twickenham.

The FA statement added: "We do not want to set deadlines on when the stadium will open and be faced with the constant speculation surrounding this as we approach individual fixtures.

"Therefore, we believe it is important that we are transparent with our plans.

"The FA is taking the prudent measure of booking new venues for all of our fixtures until the year end.

"The FA and Wembley National Stadium Limited continue to meet with banks and other key stakeholders to discuss the current status of the project and ensure we have the appropriate plans in place moving forward."

Sports Minister Richard Caborn said: "Of course what has happened with Wembley concerns me and is a disappointment, but I know when it is completed it will be absolutely magnificent and regarded as the best stadium in the world."

Builders Multiplex announced on Friday that it hoped most of the remaining work on the 90,000 seat venue would be completed by the end of the June.

However, the firm said it was entitled to a further extension under the terms of its contract in order to put the finishing touches to the project.

Twickenham is a world-class facility
RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis

This would extend the completion date until at least the end of September - a year later than the original deadline.

Friday was the official deadline for the handover of the 757million stadium from Multiplex to the FA.

Three deadlines with the Australian builders have already been missed, and when the handover does eventually take place the FA will need at least three months to test and fit out the stadium.

Wembley National Stadium Ltd also issued a statement on Friday.

It said: "Multiplex have given Wembley National Stadium Limited a revised construction schedule which now shows full practical completion by the end of September.

"Multiplex's statement anticipates 'substantial completion by the end of June' with key outstanding works up until the end of September.

"Wembley Stadium then requires a further period of two months to run test events (ramp-up) to ensure operational safety standards are met.

"Multiplex's revised schedule means WNSL has no alternative but to announce no major events will take place at the stadium for the remainder of this year.

We have an over-riding responsibility and duty to ensure that the stadium is completed to the highest standards of safety and quality
Wembley chief executive Michael Cunnah

"WNSL's main priority is to deliver a world-class stadium to the highest possible standards of both quality and safety. We will announce an opening date once we have 100% certainty from Multiplex."

Wembley chief executive Michael Cunnah added: "We share everyone's disappointment at Multiplex's announcement today of a further delay in the completion of the stadium.

"Their revised construction schedule leaves us with no other choice but to make this decision.

"However, this does not detract from our focus and determination to deliver a world-class stadium.

"We have an over-riding responsibility and duty to ensure that the stadium is completed to the highest standards of safety and quality."

England's first match after the World Cup is a friendly scheduled for 16 August, followed by the two qualifiers against Andorra on 2 September and Macedonia on 7 October.

2 Sep 06: Andorra (h)
6 Sep: Macedonia (a)
7 Oct: Macedonia (h)
11 Oct: Croatia (a)
24 Mar 07: Israel (a)
28 Mar: Andorra (a)
6 Jun: Estonia (a)
8 Sep: Israel (h)
12 Sep: Russia (h)
13 Oct: Estonia (h)
17 Oct: Russia (a)
21 Nov: Croatia (h)

Those games could now take place at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United.

Between October 2006 and June 2007 all of England's competitive fixtures are away from home.

Although the FA might want to arrange friendlies at home, the first competitive international fixture at the new Wembley will now be on 8 September 2007 when England host Israel in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

That will be seven years after England's last game at the ground.

Wembley was originally supposed to stage the 2006 FA Cup final on 13 May as well as the Football League play-offs, but the decision was made to move them to Cardiff in February.

Meanwhile Twickenham, the HQ of rugby union in England, will host the Challenge Cup final.

About 35,000 Challenge Cup final tickets have been sold, with many fans having already booked hotel rooms in London, and that was a major reason why the game has been kept in the capital.

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Football: 2006 FA Cup final, Community Shield, two England games
Rugby league: Challenge Cup final

RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis said: "Naturally, it is disappointing not to be playing this prestigious game at the new stadium, but the fact of the matter is the Challenge Cup Final is all about the event.

"In August, fans and TV viewers will still experience the unique atmosphere and spectacle that has made the Challenge Cup final a key part of the national sporting calendar.

"Twickenham is a world-class facility in which to showcase this premier rugby league match."

The delay has also affected four music concerts scheduled for this year.

The building of the stadium has suffered numerous problems, with a roof beam collapsing last week, resulting in building work being cancelled for a day.

There have also been problems with underground sewer pipes at the stadium and workers were sent home on Tuesday after disputes over pay and threats of redundancy.

Report: BBC Five Live's Nigel Adderley

Wembley builders deny delay blame
31 Mar 06 |  Sport Homepage
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31 Mar 06 |  Sport Homepage
Wembley dropped for FA Cup final
21 Feb 06 |  Football
England and play-off games moved
21 Feb 06 |  Football
Timeline: The new Wembley
21 Feb 06 |  Football

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