Hoey: I would scrap new stadium

Sports minister Kate Hoey says she would scrap the design for the new national stadium at Wembley, if given the chance.

Sports minister Kate Hoey says she would scrap the design for the new national stadium at Wembley, if given the chance.

Hoey claims the new £475 million stadium - details were announced yesterday - is not representative of all sports but just a national football stadium, and she believes flaws in the plans could cost Britain the chance to stage future Olympic Games.

"Football was determined to win the argument and it got its own way.

"It would be very difficult now to completely turn around the project. I can't start it all again but I would if I could - absolutely," she said.

"If we want to bid for the 2012 Olympics, I don't think the country's hands should be tied behind its back from the very beginning by having the wrong kind of stadium."

Hoey is not the first to voice concerns about the suitability of the new 90,000-seat Wembley.

It is intended to be the centrepiece of England's bid for football's 2006 World Cup but there are fears that it will have to undergo drastic changes in order to host a major athletics meeting.

"A national stadium should be exactly that - something that represents all sports," Hoey told the Yorkshire Post.

"Because a lot of public money has gone into this via the Lottery, the people have the right to expect that it shouldn't be just a football stadium.

"But that's what we have here - not a national sports stadium but a national football stadium."

Ms Hoey, who succeeded Tony Banks as sports minister four months ago, has ordered an independent report into the implications of the design, which should be on her desk by the end of the week.

The plans do include provision for an athletics track but the capacity would then be reduced below the level required by the International Olympic Committee as a centre-piece to stage future Games.

British Olympic Association chief executive Simon Clegg said: "The question has to be asked - are we building a national football stadium or even an English football stadium, or are we building a national stadium that can cater for all sports and act as a centre-piece for attracting the world's greatest sporting event to these shores - the Olympic games?"

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