Wembley Eases Financial Pressure

The Football Association is reportedly on the verge of signing a refinancing package that will help ease the financial pressure on Wembley Stadium.

New FA chairman Lord Triesman and other members of a special subcommittee were said to be meeting April 23 and expected to sign off on a new agreement with a consortium of banks.

The FA needs to ease the pressure of the £433 million worth of loans it took out to pay for the £800 million stadium in 2002.

The interest charges and Wembley’s start-up costs have left the venue with massive operating expenses. The terms of the original deal meant Wembley National Stadium Ltd., a wholly owned FA subsidiary, faced annual interest charges of £40 million on a 16-year loan.

The FA has been trying to cut these interest payments by negotiating a new loan over a longer period, saving between £5 million and £10 million per year.

German bank WestLB, which loaned money to rescue the troubled project six years ago, is believed to be heading the new consortium. But others, including Lehman Brothers, Societe Generale, Lloyds TSB Corporate Capital and Barclays are believed to be bowing out.

The new deal would be something of a triumph for Lord Triesman, who took over as FA chairman three months ago, especially considering that the global credit market is as bad as it’s been in years.

To pull it off, the FA would need to show the banks that the stadium is earning high enough annual revenues from sporting events and concerts. The news will be well-received by fans who likely feared the increased overheads would lead to higher ticket prices.