WHAT THE MEDIA SAY: Football fury as Wembley cash dries up

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

Online, 8/5).

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

at: www.echoResearch.com.

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