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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 13:21 GMT
Cram's cautious Wembley welcome
A scale model of the new Wembley
A scale model of the new Wembley
By BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce

Former world 1500m champion Steve Cram has welcomed the inclusion of athletics in the latest plans for a new national stadium at Wembley.

But the one-time mile world record holder, now a BBC Sport athletics commentator, has hit out at the delays which ultimately cost Britain the chance to host the 2005 World Championships.

On Wednesday, the Football Association declared Wembley as its preferred venue for the national stadium, although the Government insist a final decision has not been made.

"It's not a bad idea, but it takes us full circle from where we were two years ago," he told BBC Sport Online.

"If it's good enough now, it would have been good enough two years ago.


I see no reason why we can't bid for a major event in the future
Steve Cram

"It's annoying that the Secretary of State took the decision to take athletics out of play in the first place, which is what led to all the doubts about Wembley.

"Things haven't changed since December 1999."

Athletics was originally withdrawn from designs for the new Wembley by then-Culture Secretary Chris Smith on 22 December 1999.

The decision led to plans for a new national athletics stadium at Picketts Lock, a scheme which was shelved in October this year amid escalating costs and fears about its long-term viability.

The scrapping of the scheme resulted in Britain losing the right to host the 2005 Worlds.

But Cram said the revised Wembley plans gave Britain a better chance of hosting major sporting events in the near future.

"There's no chance of Britain hosting the World Championships in 2005, but there are other Worlds, and the running track can now be put in much quicker than before," he said.


No one has come out of the Wembley thing smelling of roses
Steve Cram

"If the provision for athletics is made, I see no reason why we can't bid for a major event in the future.

"If we want to host a World Championships or an Olympic Games in the future, you would do it at Wembley.

"The point about Wembley is that it will get used 15 or 20 times a year, so while it might cost 700m, if you spread that cost over its lifetime, it's money worth spending.

"You build a purpose-built athletics stadium, which is only going to hold one event every 25 years, and it's not money well spent. It would be better spent elsewhere.

"No-one has come out of the Wembley thing smelling of roses.

"I just hope from this point on, we get on with it, and having made the provision to have athletics, we start looking at what events we can host there."

Cram welcomed the fact that the new proposals for Wembley do not include the hotel and office space once envisioned.

"It's a much less complicated proposal to put to people in terms of funding when you can say, look, this is what it is - a national sport stadium," he said.

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BBC Sport's Steve Cram
"No one comes out of this Wembley thing smelling of roses"

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