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Volume 6 No. 211


England’s Euro 2016 draw against low-key opposition "shows up fully the FA’s folly" of rebuilding London's Wembley stadium, according to Henry Winter of the London TELEGRAPH. Instead of investing the money, the FA chose to spend £757M ($1.3B) on a ground "it hardly needs, which it will struggle to get close to filling" for the qualifiers against San Marino, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia. However, the match with main Group E rivals Switzerland "should sell out." The FA "is now planning to cut ticket prices, as well as attempting to lure prestigious friendly foes to help with repayments." According to its latest figures, the FA still owes £277M ($460M) on Wembley and its commercial department soon "has to begin a marketing campaign" for the majority of Wembley’s 17,000 debenture seats up for renewal in '17. The fault "partly lies" with UEFA after expanding the Euros from 16 teams to 24, meaning that the qualifying journey "loses much of its jeopardy element." The top two from each group qualify automatically along with the best third-placed side and four of the other eight third-placed sides after a playoff. England Manager Roy Hodgson said, “If we don’t qualify people will say we’ll have done very badly.” Asked whether the fans would turn up at Wembley for the qualifiers, Hodgson said, "Well, I don’t know. It’s a good question" (TELEGRAPH, 2/23).