NEWS : Cold feet over Wembley

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The Independent Online
Sir Brian Wolfson, the chairman of Wembley plc, appears to be struggling in his efforts to persuade existing shareholders to put up fresh funds to refinance the ailing property group, which owns Wembley stadium.

City sources say that neither Phillips & Drew nor Fidelity, the company's two largest shareholders with 18 per cent and 8 per cent of the ordinary shares respectively, are willing to commit themselves to putting new money into Wembley with Sir Brian still at the helm and without the financial support of another group.

Many see Sir Brian's attempts to raise new money from existing shareholders as a test of confidence in his leadership.

Last week Sir Brian denied a story that soccer's Premier League authorities were in discussions with the company about a possible buy-out of Wembley stadium. He said his board was considering a number of potential redevelopment schemes. "We are determined to give all substantive proposals proper and full consideration and this inevitably takes time."

Wembley's problem is that its debts are around £140m and the company had been given until the end of last year to make a repayment to its bankers. So far, Sir Brian is holding the banks at bay but the pressure is on for him to find fresh funds.