The tantrums and catfights between the builders of the new Wembley Stadium,
Multiplex, and the Football Association have been more fiery than a pre-match
bust up between Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and his Barcelona counterpart
Ever since the Australian builder signed the contract to build New Wembley in
2000, the project has been one big financial disaster area. It took less than a
year after the contract was signed for the FA to start sounding the warning bell
and begging government for a handout to save the project.
Since then, the new Wembley stadium has gone from bad to worse. Budgets have
been exceeded, deadlines have been missed, workers have gone on strike and the
relationship between Multiplex and Wembley National Stadium Ltd, the FA
subsidiary that owns the stadium, has been sucked into a maelstrom of bitterness
The stadium is now supposed to be ready for next year’s FA Cup final, and
Alex Horne, the director of finance at the FA, will be one of the key people
making sure that this time the deadline will actually be met.
Horne was one of the key parties involved in salvaging the FA’s wrecked
relationship with Multiplex, a crucial step for putting the construction of New
Wembley back on track.
It took the intervention of Lord Patrick Carter and a series of secret
meetings in hotel rooms to persuade Multiplex and WNSL to kiss and make up, but
eventually the two parties reached an agreement.
Multiplex were meant to have the stadium completed in time for the 2006 FA
Cup final, and when the deadline was missed WNSL promptly claimed liquidated
damages and held back £38m of the cash owed to Multiplex. The builder, however,
wanted this money and an additional £70m to complete the project. Multiplex then
presented a claim of £350m against WNSL.
Thanks to the intervention of Lord Carter and the negotiations between
Multiplex and Horne, a deal has been sealed. The FA have agreed to give
Multiplex an extra 130 days to finish the project and pay an extra £70m on top
of the agreed price of £458m.
What’s going to happen?
Multiplex has promised to have the stadium ready for the 2007 FA Cup Final.
Horne is going to be a key player in ensuring that the fragile truce between
WNSL and Multiplex holds. This project has been subject to delays before, and it
is going to be hard work to prevent other problems from cropping up.
The agreement between WNSL and Multiplex is in place, but the two parties
have fallen out before and if there are any more glitches leading up to 2007 the
delicate relationship could implode all over again.
A challenging winter lies ahead for the FA’s director of finance. He will be
hoping that the New Wembley problems are in the past.
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