The chances of the new Wembley being ready to host this year's FA Cup final have been downgraded to 70 per cent, according to Multiplex, the Australian company in charge of building the £757m stadium. The company will tell the Football Association within the next three weeks whether the venue will be ready to stage the end-of-season showpiece on 13 May.
"My view would be a 70 per cent chance of completion," said Multiplex's UK managing director, Martin Tidd. He added that the current situation was a "deterioration from what we said in December".
Multiplex announced last month that it had concerns over the venue being completed on time, and warned shareholders that it expected the project to exceed its budget by £70m. Multiplex will have to foot this bill because the FA's original contract - for which the former chief executive, Adam Crozier can take credit - made budget overruns the legal responsibility of the builder.
Multiplex had previously insisted that Wembley was on track for the 31 March handover deadline. Tidd said yesterday that there is a 30 per cent chance that will not happen. If Wembley is not ready, the FA Cup final will be played at the Millennium Stadium, as it has been since 2001.
Tidd said yesterday that Multiplex and its subcontractors were "fully committed to substantial completion by 31 March". But he added: "I need to restate there are residual risks that remain in terms of the stadium being able to hold the FA Cup final in May."
He said these risks involved the performance of subcontractors, design changes, relations with trade unions and the weather, and added that everything would have to work "like a Swiss watch" to meet the deadline.
Potential difficulties after 31 March include sorting out any defects, and testing by the authorities of the lighting, power and air-conditioning systems. "It does not all come down to us at the end of the day," said Tidd, who has 3,500 men working on the job. He said Multiplex had been working closely with trade unions over grievances involving the site's electricians.
In a project update, Multiplex gave details about the extent of the stadium's readiness now. Of 161 hospitality boxes, 24 are substantially complete, with carpets, while 64 others have either wall panels or ceilings completely fitted.
Of 127 toilet pods, eight are complete, 33 are ready for final finishes to be added and 30 have toilets fitted.
Out of 44 catering kiosks, only four are complete and between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of the ceilings are finished in the concourse areas. The arch over the stadium, which is 313 metres wide and 133 metres tall, is now in position.Reuse content