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Formal halt to new Wembley Stadium expected this week

THE DESIGNERS of the troubled Wembley Stadium project are to be stood down in advance of talks on the future of the project.

And preferred bidder Multiplex could end up empty handed because no construction contract has been signed for the prestige job, which could be doomed after City institutions and the Football Association shied away from investing in the project.

Consultant Mott MacDonald and architect Sir Norman Foster are expected to be told this week to wrap up work awaiting a decision by a government committee on the future of the project.

An emergency board meeting of Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) next week will decide on options to slash running costs.

A Wembley spokesman said the final decision would rest with the board but said that freezing the design was expected.

'We will not be developing a design for a stadium unless someone wants it, ' he added.

Sources close to the design team said they were expecting the news. One said it had been intended that the design contract with WSNL would be novated to Multiplex once funding was complete to enable progress through construction. Over 80% of design work is believed to be complete and paid for.

However, it has also emerged that no contract was signed with Australian contractor Multiplex.

The firm was appointed preferred bidder after a bruising split with its former joint venture partner Bovis Lend Lease. This occurred during a tender battle in which all other contractors walked away when the client demanded lower costs. It undercut all others when offering to complete the project for £326.5M.

'We agreed a contract but it was to be signed upon funding being received, ' the Wembley spokesman told NCE.

Multiplex was not available for comment. Lack of a contract could leave the firm emptyhanded, regardless of preparatory work carried out on the job.

The Wembley spokesman said that until the government committee decided on the future of the project, it would not be known if design work done so far could be used on a revised scheme, or if the project team could be retained.

He dismissed plans to build the national stadium in Birmingham. 'If there is to be a national stadium, I am confident it will be at Wembley, ' he added.

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