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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Sheepshanks backs Wembley move

PUBLISHED: 12:06 18 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 March 2010

IPSWICH chairman David Sheepshanks has thrown his weight behind the move to build a new national stadium away from Wembley.

Sheepshanks was an original member of the Wembley Stadium Board, but now feels the spiralling costs of the project should lead to a major rethink.

IPSWICH chairman David Sheepshanks has thrown his weight behind the move to build a new national stadium away from Wembley.

Sheepshanks was an original member of the Wembley Stadium Board, but now feels the spiralling costs of the project should lead to a major rethink.

The Town supremo had to give up his position, earned via his Football League/Football Association board seat, when the club was promoted to the Premiership last year.

The cost of a revamp of the old stadium snowballed to such an extent that the proposed figures reached £650million and city financiers lost confidence in servicing the huge debt.

Writing in his programme notes for Sunday's visit of Blackburn to Portman Road, Sheepshanks admitted: "I expressed very real concerns at the extraordinary escalation in costs that were being advocated, however, financiers were still confident then of funding the project.

"Since that time much has happened and the city institutions quite understandably baulked at both the cost of the design and the business plan designed to service the huge debt."

The alternatives to rebuilding Wembley are to move to a new site altogether – Birmingham appears favourite – or abandoning the whole scheme to allow the England team to continue its nationwide tour.

But Sheepshanks said: "I am of the firm view that we do need a national stadium for major footballing events – it is the national game and commands massive public support.

"Nevertheless, despite opportunities for non-match day use, it is still principally only of use on a very limited number of occasions and therefore the cost must be proportionate.

"Personally, I cannot support a cost of the order of a £650m-type scheme and therefore believe that if there is to be a rethink, then it has to go back to the very beginning and the question of location.

"Wembley is a perfectly awful place to get to for supporters and as keen as I would be to see a national stadium in the London area, I cannot believe that anybody in their right mind would choose Wembley if we are starting again, as we are.

"My preference would be to see a new site identified close to a good motorway or road network – perhaps near the M25 – but in or close to London.

"If such a venue is not possible I would support the Birmingham NEC scheme.

"As well as being easily accessible from all parts of the country, architects have already drawn up a plan to deliver a world-class stadium comprising 85,000 seats for a total cost of £324m – less than half the original proposed cost of Wembley."

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