Global boss says job will be done by Christmas, despite previous delays and death threats to operatives

Talking tough
Talking tough
Muldoon (left) and Henderson hit back at critics, insisting they will complete the project on time

The Multiplex duo that have been in charge of building Wembley stadium have pledged that the project would be complete a month early.

Speaking to Building from the Wembley site on Monday, as news broke of a threat to Multiplex's crane drivers (see right), global chief executive Noel Henderson revealed how the project had suffered two months of delays but was now back up to speed thanks to Dutch steel contractor Hollandia.

And project director Ashley Muldoon spoke out about how Wembley had taken over his life and reaffirmed that the project would be built by the end of the year.

Muldoon added that Multiplex was unlikely to make any profit from the project unless it won a High Court legal battle against sacked steel subcontractor Cleveland Bridge.

He said: “I’m here early in the morning and pretty late at night, but this project will be on time. We hope to be out by Christmas.”

The stadium is due to be handed over on 31 January 2006 and open for business in time for the FA cup final in May 2006.

Henderson said the project had been disrupted by the departure of Cleveland Bridge, but that innovations by Dutch replacement Hollandia had brought it back on schedule.

He said: “It’s fair to say we lost a couple of months on the steel issues with Cleveland Bridge, but we now have it basically back on track. We have a major claim against Cleveland and we are clearly looking for recoveries.”

Multiplex’s shares plummeted 16% after it said it would only break even on the flagship stadium project. To get any return from Wembley, Multiplex would have to win damages from its subcontractors.

Henderson added that the company had not negotiated a fixed-price contract with Hollandia for the completion of the steel package, but he said the deal “was as tight as it could be”, and had “safeguards built into it”.

Our deal with Hollandia is as tight as could be. Safeguards are built in

Noel Henderson, Multiplex

Muldoon added that Multiplex could claw back some money on the project should it finish a month early as predicted.

He would not be drawn on the financial incentives being offered by the client, but said: “If we go over the handover deadline, we have to pay £120,000 a day in penalties.”

Muldoon added that the winter weather had been kind to the project and it was now beginning to take off. He said: “Hopefully we will begin to lay the pitch in December.”

Cleveland Bridge, which erected the project’s 133 m high arch, says Multiplex owes it a significant sum of money for work it completed on the stadium.

Cleveland Bridge won interim adjudication judgments against Multiplex. The Australian contractor has responded that it will settle the dispute in court.

Multiplex has released a statement emphasising that its UK subsidiary had the full backing of the group and its founder, John Roberts.

It said: “The Roberts family has demonstrated its support for the group and the Wembley project by undertaking to indemnify Multiplex Ltd up to Aus$50m (£20m) in respect of any loss that emerges on the Wembley project.”

  • Multiplex has entered into litigation with Marylebone Warwick Balfour in connection with a development at West India Quay in London Docklands, which includes a Marriott hotel.

Henderson said: “The changes of specification to the Marriott Hotel caused the diversion of resources from the apartments above the hotel.”

The £135m scheme comprises a 301-room five-star hotel and serviced apartments.