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By ESPN Staff

Wembley wait now heading for litigation

The Wembley Stadium debacle is heading for the law courts after the builders' refusal to pay penalty clauses for yet another delay to the £757million project.

Multiplex should have stumped up £140,000-a-day for every day beyond a January 31 deadline but claim they should be allowed until the end of September due to changes in the contract.

The Football Association and their wholly-owned subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) are now expected to take legal action.

Wembley chief executive Michael Cunnah said: 'The financial issues between ourselves and Multiplex are just that, between us and Multiplex, and we have a fixed-price contract that we are very happy to rely upon. We would reject any claims from Multiplex to the contrary.'

Multiplex immediately denied suggestions they were responsible for the latest delays.

The Australian construction firm claim they were entitled to extensions to the contract until at least September, 'if not beyond', and insisted Wembley had made changes to the original contract.

Multiplex managing director Martin Tidd said: 'Wembley National Stadium Limited have advised that they believe that 100% of delays to the project are the responsibility of Multiplex. We wish to refute this claim.

'We believed that we were entitled to extensions of time to our contract completion date until at least September 2006, if not beyond.

'The construction of Wembley National stadium had been subject to many design changes, historical and ongoing. These changes have implications on time and under the terms of our contract.'

The first match to be played at the new Wembley is now set to be England's friendly against as yet unconfirmed opposition in February 2007, nine months after the original proposed opening match - this year's FA Cup final on May 13.