Football: Banks opposes Arsenal's Wembley plan

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The Independent Online
The sports minister, Tony Banks, yesterday opposed Arsenal's proposal to move to Wembley Stadium if plans to redevelop their own ground at Highbury are blocked.

Banks insisted that the suggestion could damage England's chances of hosting the 2006 World Cup. He also warned Wembley Stadium Ltd that the pounds 240m project to transform the 75-year-old venue into the new National Stadium by the year 2002 could be abandoned if Arsenal's proposal goes ahead.

"There can't be any question of Arsenal playing at Wembley," Banks said. "We don't provide public money to provide Premier League clubs with new facilities. Lottery funds have been earmarked for a stadium which will serve English national teams, including football, rugby league and athletics events. It will be a key component of bids to attract the World Cup in 2006, future Olympics and other international events to this country."

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