The future of a £550m PFI national sports complex near Dublin is in doubt after the Irish government bowed to pressure for an independent audit of the project.
The government invited tenders this week for consultants to assess the financial viability of building an Olympic-standard sports campus on the 202 ha site at Abbotstown, 12 km outside Dublin.

The review will include an audit of bids due on 21 June from six international consortiums to design, build, finance and operate the facilities.

Firms understood to be bidding include Bovis Lend Lease with Connell Mott MacDonald, German contractor Hochtief and French firm Bouygues.

The proposed scheme includes an 80,000-seat stadium, a 20,000-seat indoor arena, and an aquatic and leisure centre with a 50 m pool.

Other elements are sports sciences and medical facilities, a velodrome, golf academy, tennis centre and offices.

The Irish government had pledged £350m to the project, which was to be developed by quango Campus Stadium Ireland as a public–private partnership.

The government says it had so far only agreed to fund the aquatic centre, designed by S&P Architects, which has already has planning permission.

A source close to the project said: "The review is intended to rationalise the PPP deal in terms of the actual cost to the taxpayer."

One member of a consortium said: "It is certainly not as straightforward on the funding and organisational front as we had thought.

"There was talk of the Irish government funding 50% of the construction cost of the stadium but there is a lot of political opposition to that. The review will look at the overall viability and financial models and the justification of the project per se."

German firm Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner was appointed to design a masterplan.

Stefan Behnisch confirmed that it was continuing to work on the project.

The preferred bidders for the PPP packages are obliged to appoint architects from a panel of 14 international firms preselected by Campus Stadium Ireland.