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Stadium blues

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Tessa Jowell, the woman handed the poisoned chalice of Wembley, was called to account by Gerald Kaufman last week in the House of Commons. He told her to stop dithering and get the damn thing built rather than keep hanging onto the 'tar baby' (his words).

Others wanted to know what exactly is her idea of a deadline when they keep proving to be far from dead, with banks handed yet more time to assemble their finance? Jowell's response was less than persuasive. Her most mystifying line concerned the eternal bugbear, costs. 'If Wembley fails, ' she said, 'Birmingham is an option, but it is a more expensive one.' That's news to all of us, although Foster says the Wembley Stadium itself is £340 million of the total £715 million cost, compared with Birmingham's £400 million scheme. Ex-sports minister Tony Banks would have something to say about it being pricier in Britain's second city. He used to take holidays as a family there 'because we were so poor'.

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