Wembley offer could stall World Cup plan

THE SALE of Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, could run into last-minute problems after the holding company revealed yesterday that it had received an approach that may lead to an offer for the entire group.

The twin-towered stadium is in the process of being sold to the English National Stadium Development Company, which will redevelop the site with the help of Lottery money as part of England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

The last minute approach to Wembley, which also controls Wembley arena and other leisure interests, has come from Enic, the investment vehicle run by Bahamas-based financier Joe Lewis. Enic already controls stakes in Glasgow Rangers, Vicenza , Slavia Prague and AEK Athens. It was also linked with a possible bid for Tottenham Hotspur last year.

Shares in Wembley soared by nearly 18 per cent to 367.5p on the news, valuing the company at just over pounds 200m. Enic's approach is thought to involve a cash and shares offer. The group does not want to jeopardise England's bid for the 2006 World Cup and if it does make a formal bid it will not necessarily block the stadium deal.

Enic's approach has arisen from an acrimonious split in the Wembley board. It is understood that the non-executive directors of Wembley are unhappy about the way the stadium sale plan has been handled, and that they invited Enic to look at making a possible offer. The non-executive directors include Jarvis Astaire, the veteran boxing promoter, and Peter Mead of the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers, as well as Wembley's non-executive chairman, Claus Hultman.

The possibility of a last-ditch bid for Wembley is likely to infuriate the Sports Council and others associated with England's World Cup bid. Though the 2006 Word Cup is still seven years away, the disruption of a bid will be unwelcome.

Wembley's executive directors, which number only the chief executive and finance director, are understood to be cool on the Enic interest because of weakness in Enic's share price. The board hopes to press ahead with the sale of the stadium for pounds 103m. The move has cleared most of the hurdles and now needs only to be approved by shareholders. Schroders and Philips & Drew, the leading investors with 37 per cent of the equity between them, are thought to support the sale.

A deal, with the Sports Council and the Football Association as the main backers, has already been outlined between Wembley and the ENSDC.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee