'Unviable' Wembley claims are dismissed

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The Independent Football

The company which is carrying out the £660m redevelopment of Wembley Stadium yesterday dismissed claims that the project was financially unviable.

The company which is carrying out the £660m redevelopment of Wembley Stadium yesterday dismissed claims that the project was financially unviable.

Wembley National Stadium Limited, a subsidiary of the Football Association, said that, based on "conservative calculations", the new stadium will generate revenues of more than £63m a year, after accounting for around £17m in operating costs. That compares to the net turnover of £12.6m a year raised from the old Wembley, which staged its last match last month.

The company, which has received £120m of National Lottery funding, said it had already secured an agreement with the FA to stage matches which is worth about £21m a year. This includes sponsorship and television revenues. A further £40m is expected to be made from "premium" ticket sales to corporate customers, hospitality firms and Wembley club members. An additional £10.7m is forecast from event day activities, including WNSL's share of general admissions and the proceeds from food and merchandise sales. Non-event day revenues, from banqueting, conferencing and on-site office facilities, are projected to reach £8.8m.

However, the figures do not take into account the estimated £30m of annual interest payments which the company will need to make on the £410m, 20-year loan that Chase Manhattan, the investment bank, is trying to raise from the City. WNSL is assuming that an average of 26 events - including football and rugby matches and concerts - will be held in the stadium each year. The design plans for the 90,000-seat stadium include provision for 12,800 "premium" seats which will feature extra leg room and offer some of the best views. Other facilities will include a kilometre-long bank of food and merchandising points and 2,000 toilets, which WNSL says is the largest number at any public complex in the world.

Joe Royle, the Manchester City manager, has made a £2m-plus move to sign Liverpool's Danny Murphy. Gérard Houllier, the Liverpool manager, is reluctant to part company with the player while the club chases honours on three fronts, but may decide to let him go if City make a suitable offer. Meanwhile, Royle has decided not to sign Sebastian Rozental, the Chilean striker, following a trial period and the player will now return to Rangers.

The Leeds United targets Azar Karadas and Thorstein Helstad have been ordered back to Norway following a row between David O'Leary's club and Brann Bergen. The Under-21 internationals were due to join Leeds in a double deal valued at £4m, but Leeds angered Brann by asking the players to take part in a "trial" for the reserves last night. The Bergen club have criticised the Elland Road side for their handling of the move.

Peter Enckelman, the Finnish international goalkeeper, has signed a new long-term contract with Aston Villa that ties him to the club until the summer of 2005. Enckelman, David James' deputy at Villa, moved to the club for £200,000 from the Finnish side TPS Turku in January last year.

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