Noel Henderson insists Wembley Stadium will be ready for 2006 FA cup final and attacks sacked steel firm.

Noel Henderson, Multiplex’s global construction chief executive, this week broke his silence over the Wembley Stadium project by declaring it would be built in time for the FA cup final in May 2006.

Henderson criticised sacked steel contractor Cleveland Bridge for the quality of its workmanship and for its media campaign against Multiplex.

Cleveland Bridge and Multiplex have gone to court to settle a dispute over the subcontractor’s departure from the site.

Henderson said: “Our deadline is the end of January 2006, and we will complete the project by that date.” He said that the Football Association wanted to run practice events in the stadium between then and May 2006, in time for the FA cup final.

He added the steel for the bowl of the stadium was being completed, and the installation of the roof was due to begin early in the new year.

Concerns had been raised over alterations to the roof structure, but Henderson said: “We had talks in November to change the way the roof was built. But it is the same roof as designed by the architect and the engineer.”

He said a review of the roof structure was carried out after Cleveland Bridge was replaced by Dutch subcontractor Hollandia. “Ashley [Ashley Muldoon, Multiplex’s project director] and I did a presentation to the FA last month to talk about progress and changes made to the steel programme and the erection of the roof.”

The review led to a decision to prefabricate the roof structure in larger elements outside the stadium. He denied reports that steel was in short supply for the project.

Turning to Cleveland Bridge’s role on the project, he said: “CBUK walked away. They abandoned the contract. And it is well recorded that the workmanship was not suitable.”

He added that he found it strange that Cleveland Bridge had appointed a large media organisation to represent its interests in the continuing court battle.

He said: “Cleveland Bridge are still pursuing the media. We have been surprised by the strength of the campaign. It is very unusual in the case of a dispute between a head contractor and a subcontractor.”

Henderson added that Multiplex held “robust” talks with Cleveland Bridge over their workmanship in the summer and over the speed at which they were erecting the roof.

He said: “In July, when the transition occurred, there were 900 workers on the site and now there are more than 1400. We erected a record amount of steel last month, double the amount CBUK achieved.”

A Cleveland Bridge spokesperson defended its media representation and said that the stadium project had attracted interest from the world’s press and television.

She said: “In response to Multiplex recently raising issues about poor workmanship, these remain largely unspecified and CBUK is unable to comment on them.” She added the firm walked away once it was clear that it was not going to be paid.