Wembley faces half-capacity dry run

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The Independent Football

The first match at the new Wembley Stadium will not be the 2006 FA Cup final but a test event, such as an England Under-21 international, to be held in March next year.

The first match at the new Wembley Stadium will not be the 2006 FA Cup final but a test event, such as an England Under-21 international, to be held in March next year.

The £757m stadium needs to stage an event with half to two-thirds of its 90,000 seats filled, in order to test out all the power, organisational and safety systems before it can be awarded a safety certificate. Construction is on course to be finished in January, with the pitch being laid in November.

All the corporate boxes have been sold as well as around a third of the 15,000 premium seats. These cost £3,900, plus £1,300 a year for 10 years, guaranteeing a seat at 12 major sports events per year at an average of £140 per event.

"Before we have the first official match, the FA Cup final, we will stage a couple of 'soft events' in order to gain the safety certificate from Brent Council," Wembley's chief executive Michael Cunnah said.

"These events will probably be an England Under-21 international and possibly a schoolboy international, where there will be a crowd of between 30,000 and 60,000 which will enable us to test all the facilities, but not at full capacity."

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