Multiplex’s FA Cup hopes fade as car park is delayed by two months and striking steelworkers fail to return to site

The troubled Wembley Stadium project hit a fresh crisis this week after it emerged that its car park is two months behind schedule.

The news comes after contractor Multiplex announced to the Australian stock exchange over Christmas that there was “a material risk” that the stadium would not be ready for the FA Cup final in May.

Multiplex announced last year that it was likely to lose more than £70m on the stadium after a spate of problems with its subcontractors, which could culminate in a multimillion-pound legal battle this summer.

Mike Jeffries, the chairman of Wembley National Stadium Ltd, said this week that there had been a problem with Quintain, the owner of the 55 acres of land surrounding the stadium. The problems have centred on the walkway leading up to the stadium and its car park.

Jeffries said that Quintain had been granted a two-month extension to finish the work.

He said: “The car park is being delivered by Quintain and it was originally due to be delivered by the end of January, but this has now been extended by two months.” He said the car park was now expected to be handed over at the same time as the stadium in March.

Jeffries said that the row with Quintain over the walkway had been resolved. He said: “The issue of the walkway is not significant at all.”

Football Association chiefs are due to meet on the site early next month to decide whether the cup final is to take place at Wembley. The meeting has been called days after the first of several handover deadlines expires.

An FA source described the current chances of the stadium being ready in time for the FA cup as “better than 50/50”. The source added that once Multiplex’s handover deadlines began at the end of this month, it would be easier to make an informed decision on whether the cup final could be held at the stadium.

The chance of the stadium being ready for the cup final is more than 50/50

FA source

Meanwhile speculation that the stadium itself would not be ready intensified over the festive period after Multiplex admitted that it was in trouble and a series of industrial relations problems emerged.

Privately the contractor believes it can deliver the stadium on time and is blaming Quintain for delays to the surrounding infrastructure.

Steelwork on the stadium was this week beset by problems after workers who went on strike over Christmas failed to return for work on Tuesday, putting this package a further three weeks behind schedule.

Paintwork on the roof is also understood to have been delayed.

The operatives went on strike over Christmas after 22 steelworkers and welders were made redundant. They walked off the site at lunchtime on 22 December and refused to work over the Christmas holiday despite the offer of bonuses from steel contractor Hollandia.

A Multiplex spokesperson said: “Some steelwork started yesterday [Tuesday] but there was not a full complement of workers. Some are still on holiday and some have been awarded extra travelling time.”

Wempbly stadium
Wempbly stadium

What they have said …

December 2004
Our deadline is the end of January 2006, and we will complete the project by that date
Noel Henderson, Multiplex’s global construction chief executive
March 2005
This project will be on time. We hope to be out by Christmas
Ashley Muldoon, Wembley project director
25 August 2005
The construction project showing completion at the end of March remains unchanged
Andrew Roberts, Multiplex chief executive
19 December 2005
Multiplex continues to target completion of Wembley stadium to enable the 2006 FA Cup final to be played, with progressive handover of parts of the stadium expected to commence from 31 January 2006
Multiplex statement to Australian stock exchange
21 December 2005
There remains a material risk that these dates will not be achieved and the stadium will not be available for the FA Cup final
Statement to Australian stock exchange