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Football: Cup Final threat to Wembley.

WEMBLEY were yesterday told there will be no more FA Cup Finals or England games at the traditional home of the national sport if they don't sell the stadium to the Football Association.

And a contingency plan exists to build a new national stadium alongside the Millennium Dome and to play England games around the country at such venues as Old Trafford, Elland Road and Anfield.

These plans have the support of Sports Minister Tony Banks.

Ken Bates, chairman of the FA's Wembley re-development committee, yesterday told Wembley director Jarvis Astaire that the FA "mean business" over the walk-out on Wembley threat.

The battle for control of Wembley degenerated into an ugly slanging match between Bates and Astaire. Wembley shareholders will be told to ditch the FA offer and accept one from ENIC, the company founded by Bahamas-based Joe Lewis.

The current FA contract with Wembley expires in 2002 and the threat of never playing cup finals or England games at the stadium of legends has become a major plank in the battle for ownership.

Although it has been announced that Wembley has been sold to the FA, there is still determined pressure from within Wembley's board to hi- jack the deal and sell the whole Wembley complex to ENIC at pounds 240million.

The Wembley board are split over the pounds 103m bid by the FA to buy only the Stadium with Claes Houltman, who has the casting vote, in favour of the FA bid.

But Astaire said: "Here is a Swede with so much football knowledge that he could write the thinnest book in the world about it, telling us what to do.

"And it is none of Tony Banks' business. He is just Ken Bates' lap dog."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 23, 1999
Words:289
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