Spurned Wembley bidder will bypass board and woo banks

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE MAN behind a consortium that wants to rebuild Wembley stadium intends to bypass the board of the company that owns the complex and talk directly to its bankers in an attempt to get his proposal accepted.

Sir Brian Wolfson, the chairman of Wembley - which owes its bankers pounds 140m - has said that he will not entertain the pounds 250m proposal from a consortium led by Patrick Nally, a businessman, because he considers it to be 'unrealistic.'

But Mr Nally is determined to proceed. 'I have kites being flown everywhere,' he said.

Last week, his consortium of City and construction companies applied for planning permission to reconstruct the Wembley complex, even though they have no control over the property, which is owned by the public company of the same name. The stadium, which was built in 1923 for the following year's Empire Exhibition, was substantially refurbished 40 years later as part of the preparations for the 1966 football World Cup. At that stage, roofing was built over all the spectator areas.

But the Wembley company, which also owns the nearby arena and conference centre, has been beset by financial difficulties in recent years and has attracted a series of rescue schemes.

The company's advisers are discussing proposals with three potential rescuers - Harvey Goldsmith, the music promoter; Apollo, a US buyout company; and Luke Johnson and Huw Osmond, who are two City entrepreneurs.

Mr Goldsmith rejected a report that his company, Allied Entertainments, had pulled out of the talks. 'I have neither pulled out nor pulled in,' he said.

Sir Brian said that his board hoped to get back to these three parties 'within the next few days'.

However, after just one meeting with the Nally consortium, led by Mr Nally's company, Stadi Varios, Sir Brian said: 'They came to see me. I considered what they had to say. But based on what they said, I consider their plan to be unrealistic.'

Mr Nally, chief executive of Stadi Varios, plans to be involved in building six new stadiums around the country.

Earlier this year, he was involved in an abortive project to build a new stadium for Celtic Football Club in Scotland. The project failed to go ahead when a new management team took over the club and rejected the Stadi Varios plan.

Celtic's new owner, Fergus McCann, said that consideration of the Nally plans had cost the club ' pounds 450,000 in fees and many lost opportunities'. He added that the club was now in discussion with its legal advisers over the matter.

Mr Nally, who claims to have pounds 75m in place as a starting offer for Wembley stadium, said that neither he nor his company had been paid any fees by Celtic for work they had done on the stadium project.

'We just walked away when the new management came in and decided they wanted to redevelop Parkhead instead of move to a new site,' he said.

Comments