Wembley to vote on stadium's future

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WEMBLEY YESTERDAY pledged to go ahead with a shareholder vote on Thursday that will decide the future of the famous stadium, rejecting a call for the vote's postponement.

SFK Entertainment, a US operator of entertainment venues, had sought a postponement of the meeting in the hope of securing more interest in its own approach. It has expressed an interest in bidding for Wembley at around pounds 220m, or 400p per share, if the board grants it more detailed financial information. It has two days to make a formal bid or risk the rival plan being approved by shareholders.

The rival plan, which has split the Wembley board, would see the stadium sold to the Football Association for pounds 106m in a deal that would see the twin-towered landmark re-developed as part of a bid to stage the 2006 World Cup. The proposal is backed by Wembley's executive directors.

But the non-executives, which include veteran sports promoter Jarvis Astaire, have written to shareholders suggesting they oppose the plan. They believe the company risks losing its identity if it sells off the stadium. Wembley should at least secure a contract to run the main venue as part of any sale agreement, they say.