Mike Jeffries says he hopes to reach settlement with Multiplex rather than go to court

Mike Jeffries, the chairman of Wembley National Stadium Limited, has indicated that he is ready to reach an out-of-court settlement with Multiplex.

In an interview with Building, Jeffries said he had yet to receive a legal claim from the contractor but that he hoped to reach a confidential settlement.

However, he added that the delays to construction could not be blamed on design variations - a claim that would be central to any writ that Multiplex may bring against the Football Association and Wembley National Stadium Limited.

Jeffries refused to confirm whether he would pursue Multiplex over the delays and the loss of revenue that has resulted, simply saying, "We'll see". But he emphasised that he hoped to strike a deal with the contractor.

A Multiplex spokesperson said: "We don't comment on commercial or legal issues."

Jeffries praised Multiplex's performance in the construction of the stadium despite the delays. He said: "People don't understand its complexity and difficulty. Multiplex rightly regards it as a huge achievement."

Goal in sight: The turf at Wembley has been laid, as the stadium approaches completion
Goal in sight: The turf at Wembley has been laid, as the stadium approaches completion

He added that the project would not have gone ahead without Multiplex, as it was the only firm prepared to build the stadium for a fixed price. He said: "No British contractor would touch it, and the government would not give any money, so it wouldn't have gone ahead. The firm deserves credit for that."

Meanwhile, Jon Dale, president of steel subcontractor Cleveland Bridge, has replaced his lawyers after losing a High Court battle with Multiplex earlier this month over the firm's departure from the site in 2004. Dale said that Reid Minty would replace Walker Morris, but that Walker Morris would be retained in a secondary capacity.

Dale, who took over as CBUK president last year, said the firm was waiting to see if it would be given the right to appeal.

He said: "At the moment this issue is with our lawyers. We need to determine whether we will have the right to appeal and whether we have grounds to win an appeal."

He added: "We hope to be able to negotiate once we have assessed our legal position."

Dale also said that although CBUK had lost the case overall, the judge, Mr Justice Jackson, had ruled in its favour on some issues. He said: "We were mortified to find we were in breach of our contract with Multiplex as we didn't believe that to be the case. But there are a number of issues that went in our favour and we can still see a scenario whereby it may end up that Multiplex owes us money."

A Multiplex spokesperson said: "Mr Justice Jackson's ruling was very clear and confirmed that CBUK was in repudiatory breach of contract and walked off the project. We see no point in commenting further at this time."