Blair accused of lying after saying FA will decide on Wembley

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair was accused yesterday of "washing his hands" of the project to build a new national football stadium at Wembley.

The Conservatives said he had "turned his back" on the project after Downing Street said the Football Association would have the final say on the future on proposals. A report by Patrick Carter, a businessman, on the future of a national stadium was sent to Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, 10 days ago.

The report is unlikely to make any firm recommendations about the way forward, instead outlining a series of options. Mr Blair's official spokesman said it was "an FA project" and it was for the FA to decide what action to take.

There have been suggestions that the stadium could be built away from Wembley, in Birmingham or Coventry.

Downing Street said Ms Jowell would meet Adam Crozier, the FA chief executive, in the next "two to three weeks" and hand over the report, leaving football's governing body to make public its next move.

But Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Culture Secretary, said: "Having turned his back on the Dome, Tony Blair is now turning his back on Wembley. To state that it is the FA's decision is a downright lie. There is still £120m of Lottery cash tied up in the proposed Wembley project; what is going to happen to that money?"

Mr Ainsworth said the Government had undermined confidence in the Wembley scheme two years ago when Chris Smith, as the Culture and Sport Secretary, rejected plans for a combined football and athletics stadium capable of staging a world championship.

"Labour have bungled the entire project since they first took a hand in it. The Government should publish the Carter report without further delay, and announce what precisely they propose to do," he said.

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