The Wembley Stadium design team is to continue its work on the site, despite the Football Association's decision this week to back out of the redevelopment proposal unless it received £125 million in financial assistance, according to Wembley's chief architect, HOK Sport director Rod Sheard. He said the architectural team was still aiming to be on the site after the summer, despite the project's financial woes.
Sheard claimed projects on the scale of Wembley were often the targets of political agendas and financial constraints: 'Projects of this scale are not simple office blocks, they are complex buildings that have complex processes of analysis and justification.'
The FA claimed as the AJ went to press that the financial model of the project was 'flawed'.
An FA statement read: 'Effectively we are being asked to save this project rather than just give a commitment to stage our event at the stadium.'
But a Downing Street spokesman said that the government remained committed to the proposals for a new national stadium. 'We will work with the various authorities to look at different options, but that doesn't mean the government can simply write blank cheques or act as a national bank for projects which encounter funding difficulties. The government cannot step in as a banker of last resort.'
Culture secretary Chris Smith said simply that he 'regrets' the FA's decision to withdraw support for the stadium.
But shadow culture spokesman Peter Ainsworth lambasted the government for its role in the rapidly unravelling plans to redevelop Wembley. 'It is a murky political swampland into which the project has been dragged by a government that does not have a grip, 'Ainsworth told the AJ.
'I feel dismayed that it has gone so appallingly wrong and largely through incompetence. You cannot build a national stadium without the whole-hearted and engaged support of the government.'
Ainsworth claimed the handling of Wembley was a 'disaster', blaming the state of the project on a combination of 'unrealistic expectations' and 'an enormous amount of damage inflicted by the government's handling [of the project]'.
He criticized culture secretary Chris Smith for his intervention in banning athletics from the ground as 'extremely unhelpful', and said: 'He has intervened sporadically and has undermined investor confidence.'
A spokeswoman for Sport England said it would work with the FA to explore all opportunities for having the ground redeveloped: 'There should be a national stadium in this country and we hope that we can work on some options.'