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England could extend Wembley curtain call.

England's European Championship qualifying games against Sweden and Luxembourg may still go ahead at Wembley next year even if redevelopment work on the 75-year-old stadium begins as scheduled after the FA Cup final.

Reports had originally suggested that the Cup Final on May 22, or a special friendly international arranged soon afterwards, would bring the curtain down on matches at the current arena before building work starts on the new national stadium.

Although a final decision has yet to be taken, it now seems likely that the Euro 2000 qualifying games against Sweden on June 5 and Luxembourg on September 4 will still be held at Wembley.

It is understood that much preparatory work that can be done between May and September while still keeping the stadium open for business.

Officials at the English National Stadium Development Company confirmed that various matters, including planning consent, listed building status and financing, still have to be addressed before final dates can be decided. But the English Sports Council, who are set to provide pounds 120million in Lottery cash for the pounds 320million project, believe that process may only take a few more weeks to be resolved.

A spokeswoman said: "Redevelopment work will start some time between the summer and autumn of next year.

"But it will take some time to prepare the site before the bulldozers arrive and much of that exterior preparation work could start while games are still being played at Wembley."

Football Association spokesman Adrian Bevington refuted one report which indicated that there was some confusion over dates which could even result in a delay to the planned opening of the new national stadium in 2002.

He said: "There are no problems arising over the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium.

"We are in constant communication with the English Sports Council and speak as one.

"When the imminent conclusion to ongoing talks is reached, redevelopment of the stadium will begin following the FA Cup Final."
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Title Annotation:Football
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 29, 1998
Words:324
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