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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Watchdog to probe Wembley deal
Wembley Stadium
The plan to rebuild Wembley has seen many delays
The government's spending watchdog says it will look into the 715m plan to rebuild Wembley Stadium.

The National Audit Office will investigate the use of public money in the deal, which includes a 120m lottery grant from Sport England.


With the amount of public money involved, it [the probe] would be standard even on a project with no hiccups
Wembley spokesman Chris Palmer

Wembley National Stadium spokesman Chris Palmer said the audit was nothing unusual.

"That's been expected since the turn of the year," he told BBC News Online.

"With the amount of public money involved, it would be standard even on a project with no hiccups."

The NAO denied a report that it is looking into the financing because of Whitehall fears the deal might collapse.

"Because it's such a large project that has significant public and parliamentary interest we would naturally look into it," a NAO spokesman said.

"The Comptroller and Auditor-General, Sir John Bourn, is fully independent in which reports he does or doesn't carry out," he added.

"We'd be looking at it from the point of view of how public money is being spent. We wouldn't want to be drawn into commenting on the resulting study."

Drawing of proposed new stadium
The new Wembley National Stadium will seat 90,000

Most of the financing for the 90,000-seat stadium is expected to come in the form of 400m from the German finance company Westdeutsche Landesbank.

Talks with the bank are still under way, but Mr Palmer said he believed the deal would be finalised by the end of the month.

Demolition

A Sport England lottery grant will provide 120m, and the government is also contributing 20m for local transport infrastructure.

The Football Association will provide an initial 100m investment.

Mr Palmer said the remainder of the costs in the 715m figure - which includes borrowing costs and other spending outside of just building the stadium - will largely be covered by future revenues.

The actual construction cost of the stadium is about half the total 715m figure, Mr Palmer said.

The FA announced in May that demolition of the old Wembley Stadium would begin in September, after saying it had secured backers for the project.

The rebuilding of Wembley has seen numerous delays since the last England international was played there against Germany on 7 October, 2000.


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