Contractor abandons 32-month construction programme – but will be ready for the 2006 FA Cup Final.

Multiplex has privately conceded for the first time that it will not be able to finish Wembley stadium as quickly as it had hoped.

Building has obtained a copy of the firm’s construction programme, which shows that parts of the project have fallen behind schedule by as much as eight months.

There had been intense industry speculation that the project would be delayed after Multiplex dismissed steelwork contractor Cleveland Bridge in July.

A senior project source said the schedule was for a 32-month programme, and that it had been drawn up to encourage subcontractors to complete the project early. He said that Multiplex was working to a real programme of 40 months.

He said the project would be completed in time for the FA Cup Final in May 2006, as Multiplex had promised.

The source said: “The 32-month programme was never going to be met, we always knew that. The programme was purely there as a tool to drive on the subcontractors.”

Under a progress graph on the 32-month construction programme, critical path areas are behind schedule, including the “perimeter prismatic truss”, which involves welding steelwork on the roof structure. The programme also details months of delay in individual contract packages on the stadium’s main bowl structure.

The project source admitted that some time had been lost in the past but added that after Cleveland Bridge had been replaced by Dutch steel specialist Hollandia it had made up time on the critical path.

The source said that Multiplex and Hollandia were working to assemble the moveable roof from outside the stadium rather than from on the pitch, which would save time.

The source said: “Hollandia has come up with some very innovative solutions, for working on the roof from outside the stadium. It has saved around three months from the critical path of the project.” He added that the pitch was likely to be laid at the end of next year.

Multiplex this week paid Cleveland Bridge £2m after it lost an adjudication. The dispute was part of a larger row over the contract of the steelwork package, which is not the subject of legal action.

A Multiplex source said:

“Cleveland Bridge have won a couple of battles, but the war will be won in the High Court.”

  • Northcroft’s dispute resolution arm, Northcroft Management Services, has been retained since mid-summer as quantum expert for Multiplex in connection with its Wembley steelwork dispute. It has been addressing the question of the value of materials that are in dispute. Multiplex’s legal team is headed by Clifford Chance.