Wembley: We're still on target

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The Independent Online

Wembley bosses today rejected Sports Minister Kate Hoey's claims that the new national stadium will not be finished until 2004 - a year after it is scheduled to be completed.

Wembley bosses today rejected Sports Minister Kate Hoey's claims that the new national stadium will not be finished until 2004 - a year after it is scheduled to be completed.

Hoey, in Monte Carlo for meetings over the World Athletics Championships, said: "The architects now tell me the stadium will probably not be finished until late 2003 or early 2004."

However, Wembley insist they see no reason why the ground - due to be demolished after next May's FA Cup final - cannot be ready in time for soccer's showpiece occasion in 2003.

A spokesman said: "The planning application was submitted around a month later than anticipated due to the submissions by athletics.

"Providing permission is received in time, we're confident that the opening target of 2003 will be met.

"It should also be appreciated, however, that anything that impacts on the planning details would make that more difficult."

The developer, Wembley National Stadium plc, is currently waiting for planning permission for the £475million project from the local authority in Brent.

The planning review could take six months, especially if there is opposition to some aspects of the stadium.

The new ground will have seating for 90,000 spectators - though it will only hold 67,000 for athletics, much to Hoey's anger - and a 300ft arch in place of the Twin Towers.

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