MPs sceptical of athletics' inclusion in Wembley plan

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The Football Association has defended its role in the redevelopment of Wembley after the project was criticised by MPs.

A House of Commons report into the building of a new national stadium was launched to ensure public money was spent properly, with £161m of the £757m cost coming through various Government agencies.

The project has endured its fair share of controversy, with an early stumbling block being whether to include provision for athletics. Yesterday's report, from the committee of public accounts, claimed athletics was restored to the plans - after briefly being scrapped - only as "a device" to ensure £20m of funding was retained.

The report was critical of the closure of the old Wembley after England's defeat by Germany in October 2000, saying it weakened the position of Sport England, the Lottery-funded organisation which contributed £120m to the project.

But the FA yesterday hit back, saying: "Although primarily designed for football, rugby and music events, Wembley will have the capability to host athletics events, whenever required.

"Football alone cannot meet the challenges provided by the scale of our game; three-quarters of all football in England is played on public facilities, which are in desperate need of improvement.

"The new Wembley Stadium will help the FA to support the national game, by providing a new income stream to reinvest in football."