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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 11, 2007

Wembley stumped over prawn sandwich problem

Wembley officials are preparing themselves once more for the embarrassing sight of hundreds of empty seats in the minutes after half-time when England face Russia tomorrow night.

Stadium chiefs insist they are powerless to do more to encourage the 1,900 members of the Corinthian Club to return to their places.

Wembley also say there is no reason for fans to leave the stadium before the end of the match, as many did in Saturday's game against Israel, because transport facilities have been working flawlessly.

The sight of the empty seats have been a cause of much embarrassment because they are directly opposite the benches and the main television camera shots.

However, Wembley rejected claims that they were caused by slow service at catering outlets, pointing out that half-time drinks are pre-ordered by Corinthian Club members - who each pay around £8,500 a year for seats and hospitality - and food is served before the match.

Tomorrow night's match against Russia is a sell-out and the stadium will be fuller than in the Euro 2008 qualifier at the weekend, because the Israeli FA returned several thousand tickets at very short notice after failing to sell them.

Wembley officials do say they will review all their operations for the two games to see if any improvements can be made, and that Wembley Stadium station, Wembley Park Station and the main car parks were all clear by 7.50pm on Saturday, less than an hour after the final whistle.

A Wembley spokeswoman said: 'We have a review process in place for all events at Wembley Stadium to ensure that all areas are operated as effectively as possible and we have implemented measures to encourage all of our guests to return to their seats for the start of the second half.

'Ultimately however, whilst we can encourage people to return to their seats by making announcements in all areas of the stadium, turning off the televisions and limiting the availability of refreshments at half time, we cannot force our guests to return to their seats during a match.'

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