National stadium plans may be shelved

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The Independent Online

English football chiefs may abandon plans to build a national stadium after the turmoil over the future of Wembley, MPs were told.

Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, raised the prospect of the England football team going on the road permanently for its home matches. But she stressed that no decision had been made by the Football Association and Patrick Carter, the Government troubleshooter appointed to evaluate bids from Wembley, Birmingham and Coventry to build the stadium.

Ms Jowell signalled that a judgement could still be weeks away and she cast new doubt over whether any of the rival bids would be approved.

She told MPs she wanted to "lower the temperature" of the debate because negotiations were at a sensitive stage. She said ministers had to take some blame for Wembley's problems, and the collapse of a scheme for a national athletics stadium at Picketts Lock, north London.

Ms Jowell also announced a Downing Street inquiry into how to improve Britain's chances of attracting major sports finals in future. The inquiry will consider proposals for a "Minister for Events" to co-ordinate efforts to win and stage prestigious tournaments.

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