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Friday, March 31, 2006

Wembley Stadium: Multiplex to be called Multi-vex, or Multi-what's-next??!

This is Wembley Stadium, Wembley, North West London. It was constructed in the 20's and first opened in 1923. On the 11th September 2000, The English FA agree a contract with an Australian company called Multiplex to practically build a new Wembley at the cost of some £300m. So eighty years on, it is closed to the public for the immense refurbishment, with a completion date of being ready for 31st Janaury 2005. The events that have occurred since have been well documented.

Since the agreement, the FA had taken a loan with German bank WestLB to cover final costs that meant Multiplex could start work on the stadium sooner, finally beginning in September 2002. Then tragedy happened in January 2004 when a pipe of scaffolding collapsed and resulted in the death of one worker, another seriously injured. Then on the 22nd March a safety cage that was carrying two workers fell 45m to the ground. The workers were not seriously hurt. On the 23rd August 200 builders are sacked over a dispute involving working hours and break times, a strike ensues.

August 2005, Multiplex report considerable losses for the financial year of £26.1m, as opposed to the previous year's profit of £30.4m. On 8th December, the Football League chairman, Brian Mawhinney, states that the league play-off finals will possibly not feature at the stadium and instead are scheduled as a precaution to be held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Multiplex state the stadium will unlikely be finished by the time the 2006 FA Cup final approaches, and are facing up to a higher loss of £70m.

From the beginning of this year, 2006, work begins on the main walkway for pedestrians to the stadium, however Multiplex have stated the wrong type of concrete have been used within the foundations, which inevitably leads to an inspection and further delay. The company's marketing director says there is a 70% chance the stadium will be finished in time for the FA Cup final. It is confirmed by the FA that the national football friendlies against Hungary and Jamaica are scheduled to now take place at Old Trafford, and the FA Cup final and the league play-off finals are scheduled to occur at the Millennium Stadium, because of delays and uncertainties.

A 50-tonne steel rafter, being temporarily supported while being welded in place, slips and causes a loud bang, missing builders standing nearby. Three thousand, five hundred workers are sent home as a precaution. Shortly after, sewer pipes laid underneath the stadium site are discovered to have given way due to the movement above on ground level. The initial picture is this will not lead to further delays, yet another view is the pipes will need to be dug up and repaired, as a result of not properly being laid in the first place, potentially leading to months of further work. This week, a number of workers have been laid off for good because sub-contractors have not been paid up-to-date.

The original completion date for the Wembley stadium project was January 31st 2005, then it was moved back to January 2006 and then March 31st, in time for this year's FA Cup final. Today, it was announced by the FA the stadium will not be completed this year to accommodate any booked venues, the likelihood is it will be finished by early next year.

A dispute appears to have arisen between the subsidiary of the FA, Wembley National Stadium Ltd, representing the FA's interests, and Multiplex. Multiplex state the delays are quite a normal occurrence of a project the size and stature of the stadium, fixed prices within the contract are adjustable in accordance to these occurrences and Multiplex have anticipated there will be "no further adjustments to the project's financial position." However, WNSL insist there exists a penalty in the contract for every day, over the completion date given, that the stadium is not complete, a penalty estimated to be in the region of six figures.

SO what is the big deal? We can use the national stadium for Wales for our venues, friendlies, FA Cup final, again, even though a project for our own national stadium has had three completion dates overrun, a number of mishaps and near deaths, one fatality, disputes, lay-offs and not forgetting initially in its opening workings alleged death threats against Multiplex. This is a sign? A £362.5m project in the beginning of the agreement five and a half years ago as more than doubled in 2006 and still we are unsure of whether it will be completed by March 2007. World famous, a national monument for England, broken down and being rebuilt under uncompromising circumstances. My condolences to the family and friends of the worker who died, it could have been more.

Had this been a firm of builders at a residential home, I believe legal remedy would be to cease and desist them of their duties, install another firm to complete the task, and then sue for the further efforts one had to endure to have the task completed, if it was more than that expected with the previous firm. But in applying that legal view to Wembley Stadium and Multiplex, it would seem too much to now instruct another company to complete the stadium and sue Multiplex, and this financial daily penalty may be adequate recompense for WNSL. The thing is it is not adequate for myself as a national fan to continuously hear our famous stadium is being delayed. In fact, I feel the whole project is being led into an absolute debacle.


Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman for an in-depth review of the new Wembley construction project.

I actually don't mind if there is a delay of a few months because having been up close to it and its awesome arch last year, I can tell everyone that this new Wembley stadium is going to be spectacular and a wonderful home for English football.

4/01/2006 3:08 pm

Blogger EL said...

I'm pretty much with 't' on this. As long as it's finished properly and with no shortcuts I really don't care if it's late, even by a year or more. The cost of this monster project is similar to the Greenwich Tent and I know which one seems the best value. Bet when it's finished it's awsome. Something I never felt about the dome.

4/01/2006 7:13 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

True. But when a £362.5m project is scheduled for completion for Jan 31st 2005, then Jan 2006, then Mar 2006, you have to wonder why it is delayed. And with the events that have occurred since work began, one could begin to think it is jinxed. A £362.5m-now-£757m project should look excellent on completion, I agree, but when?


4/02/2006 12:26 am


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