Wembley to miss deadline

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The Independent Football

Last week the FA insisted that it would give Wembley's builder Multiplex until the last possible minute to try to complete the stadium in time for this year's showpiece on 13 May. However, Multiplex admitted last month that there was only a 70 per cent chance of Wembley being ready for the 31 March deadline.

Even if construction is completed by then, that would not guarantee the final being at Wembley. The new stadium would still need to train hundreds of staff, and satisfy safety officials that it would be able to stage the final in such a short space of time.

Paul Sergeant, the Millennium Stadium chief executive, has confirmed that the Cardiff venue can host the 2006 FA Cup final if the new Wembley is not ready on time. The past five finals have been staged there.

Sergeant said: "We know what we need to do in terms of staging the game. We've been aware since the end of last summer that we are a reserve venue and the date is ring-fenced."

Seven men were arrested after crowd trouble at the FA Cup tie between Stoke and Birmingham, police have confirmed, adding that there may be more arrests. The disorder started after Birmingham's 1-0 win at Stoke's Britannia Stadium on Sunday. Violence broke out at the south-east corner when about 200 visiting fans appeared to rip down fencing separating them from home supporters. Police officers were attacked by both sets of fans.