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Wembley Opening Delayed Until 2007


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It has been confirmed that no football or rugby matches will be staged at Wembley until 2007.


It was announced last month that this season's FA Cup Final will be held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but now the Football Association have confirmed the rebuilt stadium will not be ready for three scheduled England internationals or the Community Shield match.


The builders Multiplex now expect the stadium will be completed in September but it will need two months of test events before the first match can be staged.


An FA statement said: "Further to recent meetings with Multiplex and Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL), it is clear that the construction of Wembley Stadium is significantly behind schedule. Multiplex has now supplied WNSL and the FA with an updated schedule. From the new schedule it is apparent that Wembley will not be available to host our autumn fixtures.


"We do not want to set deadlines on when the stadium will open and be faced with the constant speculation surrounding this as we approach individual fixtures. Therefore, we believe it is important that we are transparent with our plans. The FA is taking the prudent measure of booking new venues for all of our fixtures until the year end. The fixtures will be played at alternative venues which will be publicly announced by the FA once they are confirmed.


"The FA and WNSL continue to meet with banks and other key stakeholders to discuss the current status of the project and ensure we have the appropriate plans in place moving forward."


Multiplex has denied a claim that it is completely responsible for delays to the project.


The Rugby Football League has announced the Powergen Challenge Cup final will now be moved to Twickenham, the home of rugby union.


RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis said: "Naturally, it is disappointing not to be playing this prestigious game at the new stadium, but the fact of the matter is the Challenge Cup Final is all about the event.


"In August, fans and TV viewers will still experience the unique atmosphere and spectacle that has made the Challenge Cup final a key part of the national sporting calendar, and Twickenham is a world-class facility in which to showcase this premier Rugby League match."


It will be the second time the Challenge Cup final has been played at Twickenham.


It was first staged there in 2001 when St Helens beat Bradford Bulls.

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