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Football: FA Battle For Wembley.

THE Football Association could face further competition in their bid to buy Wembley and turn it into the new national stadium.

An American promotions company whose clients include David Beckham, Alan Shearer and Michael Owen as well as stars such as Billy Joel and Michael Jordan, are believed to be close to entering a possible takeover battle for the stadium.

Sfx Entertainment are reported to have expressed an interest in buying Wembley plc, the company who own the entire Wembley complex. Wembley plc yesterday confirmed to the Stock Exchange that they had received a "preliminary approach" from an unnamed suitor.

Sfx Entertainment have not publicly revealed their involvement and there still remains a question over whether they will translate their initial interest into a firm bid. If they were to make a substantial offer they would find Chelsea chairman Ken Bates implacably opposed, and threatening to switch the FA's plans for a new national stadium from Wembley to another site.

The FA retain control over where England play home internationals and if they were ousted from the Wembley deal, then any company buying the stadium would have to look at other options for its use, such as enticing Arsenal there.

However, the FA do still need the approval of Wembley plc's shareholders at a meeting scheduled for next month to pass their pounds 103million bid, which was agreed by the board in outline last month. Some Wembley non-executive directors are understood to remain opposed to selling the ground to the English National Stadium Development Company - an FA subsidiary - and one of them reportedly initiated talks with Sfx Entertainment.

There is also the possibility of a renewed bid from leisure group ENIC after having one informal offer turned down by Wembley plc's board, who are expected to discuss the new approach within the next two days.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 18, 1999
Words:305
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