Organisation: Wembley Stadium
Issue: Rebuilding plan lacking funding
As the domestic football season approaches the final whistle, the matter
of where the England team will play its home games remains very much up
in the air.
Revelations that the Wembley Stadium redevelopment project may have to
be scrapped due to lack of funding stirred emotions both in the media
and the public.
In a sport flush with record-breaking profits and huge wages, the press
was unsurprisingly critical of the 'men in the grey suits' (Daily
Express, 3/5) behind the latest twist in the tale.
The finger of blame was pointed in every direction. Rodney Walker,
current chairman of Wembley National Stadium Limited, was blasted for
not being able to secure the necessary finance for the project from the
Conservative Party leader William Hague tackled Tony Blair at Prime
Minister's Question Time, accusing him of turning the Wembley project
'into football's version of the Dome'.
Culture Secretary Chris Smith came under fire for refusing to put his
hand in the Government's pocket to top up the FA's funds, and, in a case
of mutual recrimination, the former project head, Chelsea chairman Ken
Bates, called for Smith to resign and Sports Minister Kate Hoey 'to be
shot' (The Mirror, 3/5).
On the verge of the calling of the general election, the Government
tried to distance itself from the whole affair. However, potential voter
backlash caused by spending taxpayers' money on a football stadium
seemed inevitable according to Sue Mott (Daily Telegraph, 4/5).
The FA itself attracted little sympathy, particularly since chief
executive Adam Crozier was quoted in an interview with the Daily Mail
(4/5) claiming that the FA was expecting to make around pounds 125m
profit next year.
Athletics dealt the project a further blow by saying that it wanted
nothing to do with the stadium. Once seen as a possible saviour, British
Athletics chief executive David Moorcroft ruled out any chance of
including track and field facilities at the rebuilt Wembley (BBC Sport
Calls to abandon Wembley were also rife, particularly in the broadsheets
and on the radio, with many claiming that the only way forward was to
relocate - with Birmingham the seemingly favoured option.
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found