When Multiplex signed that ill-fated deal to build a new Wembley stadium for that ill-fated fixed price deal in November 2000, its strategic aim was to hand its business card to the UK market.

In this, at least, it has been successful. Multiplex is now a household name - but for all the wrong reasons. It took the project on for the prestige that success would bring; but failed to comprehend the corollary: how the public and the press would hold to account any failure in the building of this precious national icon.

At first, its can-do attitude seemed refreshing - remember, it took the project on when every British firm had walked away. Later it become increasingly apparent that behind it lay naivety, arrogance and even seeming incompetence. For Multiplex, the story of Wembley is one of constant misjudgment. Thank goodness the FA finally put an end to the charade that the cup final would be played there on 13 May - Multiplex's protestations were beginning to look so painful that it was only humane to put it out of its misery.

For now every taxi driver in the country is tuning in to the latest phone-in on what's happening to Wembley's hallowed turf (and yes, Pete Bloggs of Hendon, we can get the Olympic facilities built on time). But that will pass quickly. As soon the first rock concert is held - hopefully

Bon Jovi on 10 June - or the first goal is scored, all the hoo-ha over the stadium's construction will be quickly forgotten. Instead, the finished product will be cherished. Who remembers that the Millennium Wheel didn't turn on millennium's eve? And with the total price tag firmly remaining at £757m, the FA ended up with a world-class stadium at third-division prices.

But how about Multiplex? It's unlikely that it will be able to live down its misfortune so quickly. As should be blindingly obvious by now, construction in a foreign land can be more difficult to crack than playing football overseas. Even firms that know the UK market backwards sometimes get it wrong. Bovis' results are just the latest reminder of how perilous contracting is.

Of course, we don't yet know the full story behind the break-up with Cleveland Bridge, probably the main reason for the £70m (and counting) loss on the job. The court case could yet still restore some dignity to Multiplex, as well as some cash. Still, it would be surprising - some might say foolhardy - if Multiplex had the stomach for hard bid tendering after this. One would expect it to at least recover its position by concentrating on building its own developments.

Even then, it's got to learn to play the game by British rules. If you want to change the culture of construction in the UK - and by all means, why not? - then you need to do what Stanhope or Land Securities have done and take your suppliers with you. It should by now have stamped its passport with the information that specialists in the UK do read the contract's small print and unions do still have teeth. The alternative is to continue to learn the hard way. Let's not forget the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where the FA Cup Final will be held. Its construction was another fiasco. It did open on time, but it was built on a fixed-price contract that went horribly overbudget and helped to seal the fate of another poor builder, Laing. And look at what happened to that firm - it was snapped up by O'Rourke. Now there's an idea …