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Picketts Lock faces axe after Wembley Multiplex deal

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Wembley stadium will be rebuilt with a temporary track and field stadium if Australian construction giant Multiplex bankrolls the project.

But the news, from owner Wembley National Stadium, spells the end for FaulknerBrowns' £87 million dedicated national athletics stadium at Picketts Lock in Enfield, north London, earmarked for the 2005 World Championships. It will become superfluous if the £500 million HOK Sports/Foster and Partners Wembley scheme goes ahead.

Multiplex has pledged £350 million in return for a 20-year lease on the new stadium. The Football Association will invest £100 million and rent the venue until the end of the contract.

'Multiplex's offer will only cover construction costs, but if it puts the money in our pocket then the project will go ahead as originally planned, complete with a hotel and office space, ' said a Wembley National Stadium spokesman.

Wembley's proposed raised deck for occasional athletics will cost £15 million and take six months to construct every time it is used - a scenario strongly opposed by Sport England which secretly believes Picketts Lock could now be a lost cause.

Sport England is scheduled to meet the Lottery Commission next week to finalise funding for Picketts Lock. But newly appointed sports minister Richard Caborn has thrown the future of the dedicated athletics facility into question by demanding revised financial viability reports, and has told the local council to take a fresh look at the knock-on benefits to the community.

A Sport England insider told the AJ: 'Wembley leaves us with a track that we can't use whenever we like. Funding had originally been agreed before Caborn came in - the only question was sustainability. But there have been so many changes at government level, one of our greatest champions, Chris Smith, is gone and Caborn has his own agenda. There's a lot of intrigue and very little trust.'

London mayor Ken Livingstone reiterated his view that Wembley should remain the 'home of soccer'. He added that the new stadium is 'vital' for economic regeneration in north London.

Patrick Carter, appointed by the government to review the situation, has been given eight weeks to settle the question of a new national stadium.

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