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Tensions between the Football Association and the company building the new Wembley stadium burst into the open on Friday, with the two sides disputing who bore the blame for the latest delay in completing the £757m project.
The row flared when Martin Tidd, a managing director with Multiplex, the Australian contractor, reacted to televised comments by Wembley National Stadium Limited, the FA subsidiary, with a strongly-worded statement.
Mr Tidd said: “During interviews today, Wembley National Stadium Limited advised that they believe that 100 per cent of delays to the project are the responsibility of Multiplex. We wish to refute this claim. A fixed-price contract was entered into with [WNSL] reflecting a defined scope of works. The contract is adjustable in the event of change by the client. On a project of the size and complexity of Wembley, it would be unprecedented for no changes to have been made.’’
Michael Cunnah, WNSL chief executive, said the company had had “six revised construction programmes from Multiplex in the last 13 months...The latest programme that they have given us shows us that they won’t be able to hand over the stadium until September...We need to make sure that when Multiplex do hand over the stadium, not only is it completed, but it is also of the right quality and that it is safe.”
The row followed the announcement that no major events would take place at the stadium until 2007. The decision has forced the rearrangement of a string of high-profile rock concerts and sports fixtures. Though the delayed opening will cost WNSL millions of pounds in lost income, it is confident it can operate until early 2007 with funds already at its disposal. The first event at the arena is now thought likely to be a friendly football international in February 2007.