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banner Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Time to stand up and be counted
What will happen to the crumbling Wembley Stadium?
What will happen to the crumbling Wembley Stadium?
BBC Sport Online's football editor, Howard Nurse, has little sympathy for the Football Association and government over the Wembley fiasco.

Football fans in England will feel short-changed on hearing about the latest setback to the doomed new Wembley Stadium project.

Everybody wants England to have a sparkling new national stadium, but, it seems, nobody is prepared to pay for it.

Now, the Football Association insists the stadium will not be built without major investment from the government.

The plan to knock down Wembley, home of the FA Cup final since 1923, and redevelop the site into a new 90,000-seater stadium has been dogged by delays.

The cost of the project has soared from an estimated £240m to £660m and the development is at least two years behind schedule.

Demolition of the old stadium, due originally to start in November 2000, is yet to begin.

Shambles

The longer this goes on, the longer the national team is homeless and the more embarrassing the situation becomes.

Football's origins are in England and for England not to have a national stadium is a sham.

What a good job the FA lost in the bidding process for the rights to stage the 2006 World Cup finals.

Imagine the embarrassment of hosting the most prestigious football tournament in the world with either a half-built bankrupt new stadium or the dilapidated old Wembley as the centrepiece.

Adam Crozier
Adam Crozier will not raid the FA's coffers

Adam Crozier, chief executive of the FA, says English football's governing body cannot act as the sole sponsor of the scheme.

The FA, the government and the investment banks are not prepared to take on the risks associated with the project.

Sir Rodney Walker was brought in to help secure the additional funding needed to get the project off the ground but the City - hit by a declining Stock Market - was not prepared to get on board.

With a general election looming, the government does not want to take risks, especially given the Millennium Dome disaster.

But somebody has got to take responsibility once and for all and decide where this project is going.

The FA is not short of money but argues that its raison d'Ítre is to promote grass roots football.

Perhaps some of the £800m in television rights due to come its way over the next three years could be utilised to put the Wembley project back on track.

A stadium used purely for football would not be self-supporting, but a national stadium in the true sense of the meaning could be used for other lucrative activities.

Whatever it is used for and wherever it is built, somebody needs to do something positive - and soon.

Otherwise, English football's image will be reduced to nothing but a pile of rubble.

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See also:

01 May 01 |  Rugby Union
Wembley timetable
25 Oct 00 |  Business
Wembley costs 'escalate'
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