2004 date for new Wembley

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The Independent Online

Officials have confirmed that the 2003 FA Cup final will not be held at Wembley despite the announcement that a new contractor has been found to build the £475m stadium.

Officials have confirmed that the 2003 FA Cup final will not be held at Wembley despite the announcement that a new contractor has been found to build the £475m stadium.

The Australian construction company Multiplex - builders of the Stadium Australia complex which forms the focal point for the Olympic Games - has agreed a contract price of £326.5m less than two weeks after its consortium with Bovis said it could not be done.

Wembley pulled out of talks at that stage, but a new deal has been resurrected with Multiplex alone which keeps the project within its budget. The Chase Manhattan bank will now approach the City for funds to complete construction work, with demolition due to begin in November, a month after England's World Cup qualifier with Germany.

"The 2003 Cup final was probably out of the question as soon as it was decided that the England-Germany game would take place at Wembley," Chris Palmer, communications director for Wembley National Stadium Ltd, the organisation which runs the stadium, said.

"We will be open for the following year, although it is too early to say whether we will host an international before the Cup final. This is not the finishing line, but we have cleared the final hurdle."

It is expected that the new arena will open in early 2004 - with a schoolboy international.

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