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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
FA signs Wembley deal
An illustration of the new Wembley stadium design.
The new stadium has become a long-running saga
The Football Association (FA) has announced that bulldozers will finally start knocking down Wembley Stadium this autumn.

After years of discussions with numerous parties the FA signed a "heads of agreement" deal with German bank Westdeutsche Landesbank for a 400m loan.

English football's governing body believes it will take around 10 weeks to tie up the loose ends.

And once they are taken care of, work can at last begin on the new Wembley - almost two years after the final game at the old stadium.


A huge amount of progress has been made in the past six months and this marks a major step forward
FA chief executive Adam Crozier

It has stood empty since the last England international played there against Germany on 7 October, 2000.

The Government, which has had to take a close interest in the troubled project, has previously announced that securing funding is the one remaining criteria to be fulfilled.

When that is settled, work on the redesigned stadium should start, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2005.

That will bring an end to hopes for those who either wanted a national stadium in the Midlands or for the England team to stay on the road for their internationals.

"I'm delighted to announce that we have managed to sign the heads of agreement to finance the building of the new national stadium," said FA chief executive Adam Crozier.

"A huge amount of progress has been made in the past six months and this marks a major step forward in helping us to succeed in our desire to build a stadium that will be among the finest in the world.

"There is still much work to be done, but we have never been more confident that the final details can be worked out."

One of Wembley's twin towers
The famous twin towers will be demolished

Crozier had earlier indicated he believed work would commence on redesigning Wembley within the next three months.

"We are so prepared in all other areas that we'd expect work to begin very shortly after that final agreement is reached, probably in September," he said.

Crozier revealed that the new stadium itself would cost 358m, although other costs such as local infrastructure and parking areas will push the price higher.

The FA will supply an initial 100m, while they claim that their annual support after that will be equivalent to the current cost of staging games around the country.

The scheme has been scaled down after the FA's initial attempt to secure funds failed.

"We accept that there were a lot of mistakes made in the early days," added Crozier.

"But we've made fantastic progress since then and we will have one of the finest stadiums in the world."


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