After months of screaming headlines, legal grandstanding and bar-room speculation we finally found out for sure on Monday what many had assumed for some time: Wembley stadium may not be ready in time for its showcase FA Cup Final game in May.
Australian contractor Multiplex revealed that it is only 70% confident of completion in time for the match and described the remaining weeks of the project as having to run as "smooth as a Swiss watch" for this to happen.
Aside from the eternal question of whether it will meet this deadline or not, the big question remaining is: why did they not admit before now that there was a problem? It was only during the Christmas break that Multiplex dropped the first hint that it was in trouble, or rather that there was a "material risk" that the stadium would not be ready in time. And that was made for regulatory reasons to the Australian stock exchange. Up until then, Multiplex chiefs had steadfastly maintained that the project was on track.
Fast forward a month, as the 16 teams are being drawn for one of the world's greatest sporting competitions, and we finally find out just what "material risk" means: basically, that the project is likely to run late. Multiplex cites subcontractor disputes, industrial relations and even the weather as reasons why it may fail to meet its deadline. And should you judge the remainder of the project by these criteria, the omens do not look good.
Even if you put to one side the monumental bust-up with Cleveland Bridge, the firm that departed from the project after masterminding the erection of the stadium's iconic arch, relations with subcontractors on the site has been anything but stable. And should Multiplex believe it can rely on stable industrial relations for the remainder of the project then a quick read of our news feature detailing how the industry's union movement is flexing its muscles is enough to cause even greater concern. Worse still for Multiplex, the stadium's roof structure is yet to be complete, the M&E work has not been commissioned or tested and the pitch is nowhere in sight.
When Multiplex landed in the UK, the idea of using the iconic Wembley project as a beachhead into the European market looked like a good one. Many, however, questioned the feasibility of its guaranteed maximum price and there were quiet mutterings over the complexity of Foster and Partners' designs for the stadium's arch. To Multiplex's credit, the engineering feat of getting that arch into place has been successful, and one of the most fantastic stadiums to be built in a generation is 85% complete. Whether the stadium is 100% complete on time depends on how Multiplex handles any remaining problems - but at least we know what those problems are. Don't we?