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Contractors ready to kick off at Arsenal stadium site

CONTRACTORS in north London were this week gearing up finally to start work on Arsenal football club's £400M stadium at the end of next month.

Sir Robert McAlpine is constructing tower cranes, establishing the site, undertaking minor concrete works and clearing debris in preparation for the official go-ahead.

This follows demolition of industrial buildings over the past few months.

Groundworks subcontractors are also drafting in and staffing up in expectation of a February start.

Work is waiting for the stadium's finance plan to be rubber-stamped.

A funding gap of around £50M is believed to have held work up last year. 'A solution to this is confidently predicted in the next couple of weeks, ' said a club spokesman.

Construction has also been delayed by slow progress in securing compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for several small properties But deputy prime minister John Prescott said he was 'minded to confirm' the local authority's decision to approve the council's decision to approve the purchase orders just before Christmas.

Contractors are getting ready to start work without them, however, as the buildings are not on the stadium's footprint.

The club aims to have the stadium finished in time for the start of the 2006/07 season.

Opponents to the CPO will respond to Prescott's decision by the end of January, and could then launch a High Court appeal against the deputy prime minister's decision.

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