Waiting For Wembley

The construction woes of London’s Wembley Stadium mirror England’s preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, according to The Rolling Stones‘ U.K. agent.

Solo Agency‘s John Giddings is “still waiting” to hear if The Rolling Stones’ Wembley shows will take place, adding that, “How ever London is going to get the Olympics together for 2012 is absolutely beyond me.”

Within the last couple of weeks, work stopped for a day when a roof girder collapsed, there has been concern that the sewers underneath the £757 million building are already caving in, and 120 steelworkers, welders and scaffolders have been laid off because the subcontractor claims it can’t pay them until developer Multiplex comes up with the money that it owes.

Unless it does so, all 120 of them will be off the site after April 4th.

“It’s become a national disgrace. We laughed when we saw the Greeks trying to get venues together for the last Olympics but, in comparison to us, they didn’t really do too badly, did they?” Giddings continued.

He said he was waiting for some reassurance that the August 20th and 22nd shows would happen and emphasized that what’s needed now is a quick decision.

“It’s reaching the point that people can’t be happy about buying tickets because they’re not confident the shows will happen.

“As for the Stones, we definitely have an alternative plan – although I’m not saying what that is right now – and I’m confident that we’ll be able to cater for everyone who has bought a ticket.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that it looks increasingly unlikely that the new venue will be open before December. Talks continue, though, between the various parties including Multiplex, Wembley National Stadium Ltd., the sports bodies involved in the soccer and rugby teams and various live music agents and promoters.

The June Wembley concerts for Bon Jovi and Take That have been moved to Milton Keynes Bowl, although the U.K. music industry gave up on the idea of those happening in the new stadium about six weeks earlier.

If, as The Telegraph suggests, WNSL will need a further three months after Multiplex’s completion to fit out the Wembley interior before it can be opened to the public, then all the stadium’s 2006 calendar will be wiped.

Apart from the likely compensation claims from artists, promoters and sports organizations, and the upheaval of either redirecting or refunding about 750,000 ticket-holders, it would leave the Football Association – which borrowed £443 million to fund the project – short of the summer revenues that would have gone toward the first £40 million capital and interest repayment due in September.

Last November, a day before Robbie Williams announced his European summer shows, FA chief exec Brian Barwick confessed he wasn’t confident the stadium would be ready in time for a flagship opening with the May 13th Cup Final.

That was moved to Cardiff Millennium Stadium more than two months ago. Williams’ agent, Ian Huffam from X-Ray Touring, still looked to have no reason to worry. His act’s five sold-out shows were slotted to happen four months after the soccer final September 14-19. Now, they also look in jeopardy.

– John Gammon