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Volume 7 No. 146

Facilities

Fewer than 40% of people in the grassroots game are in favor of Wembley's sale.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The FA drafted England Manager Gareth Southgate for a "last-ditched attempt" to push through the "troubled" £600M ($794.3M) sale of Wembley after discovering that fewer than 40% of people involved in the grassroots game are in favor of the deal ahead of a decisive vote, according to Tom Morgan of the London TELEGRAPH. Southgate was called upon to deliver an endorsement at a "hastily-arranged presentation" to a select group of FA Council members and county game execs at St. George's Park just two days before the 127-member body gathers on Thursday to "decide Wembley's fate." Southgate was "parachuted in" after a piece of FA research showed just 38% of the grassroots game supported the deal, "despite assurances that every penny of the offer from billionaire Shahid Khan would be spent on the amateur game." However, one senior FA Council member said that Khan's offer was in "serious risk of being torpedoed" on Thursday and warned FA CEO Martin Glenn to expect "fierce opposition" before the councilors vote on Oct. 24 (TELEGRAPH, 10/10).

'HEALTHY DISCUSSION': The BBC reported the FA Council had a "healthy discussion" about the proposed sale of Wembley Stadium. The body met on Thursday to hear a presentation from FA execs about why they back the sale. Among the issues discussed was ensuring there are protections in place "to ensure Wembley's status as the national stadium" (BBC, 10/11).

UPGRADES BILL: In London, Lawton & Lambert reported the FA warned that it faces a £72M ($95.3M) bill for upgrades to Wembley if it does not sell. In an "apparent last-ditch attempt to garner support" for the £600M sale, FA CFO Mark Burrows even claimed the organization would be better off "handing over" the stadium than retaining ownership. Burrows "spelled out the expected costs" during a presentation to county FA execs. With £2M ($2.6M) worth of work needed on the floodlights -- as well as improvements to the pitch, the roof, cabling and beer delivery systems -- the bill would be around £18M ($23.8M) this year (DAILY MAIL, 10/10).

The first artist impressions for the design of the Sydney Football Stadium set for Moore Park were released publicly on Thursday as NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres "threw down against Brisbane's sporting arena," declaring that Sydney would now "kick Suncorp into ­reserve grade," according to Caldwell & Brennan of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. It can be revealed that the new stadium features a ­hi-tech roof "that can be lit up from the underside" in the home team's colors as well as "design nods to the natural environment" of neighboring Centennial Park. Images of the new stadium had not been seen until this week, "just over three months before the demolition of Allianz Stadium in January." The winning design for the new stadium -- slated to open in '22 -- is the result of "an intensive design competition" which was won by Cox Architecture over two other firms. Senior sources consider this design to offer the "most female friendly" stadium in Australia for everyone from athletes to fans, "with top-class female change room facilities and bathrooms." Cox Architecture's design was chosen "to com­plement the natural parkland surrounds for the area, as well as other Sydney landmarks like the Harbour Bridge" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/11).

The All England Club offered £63.75M for 73 acres of land belonging to the Wimbledon Park Golf Club.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Wimbledon's ambitions of "trebling its space for the high point of the tennis summer came down to old-fashioned pragmatism and money" on Wednesday as members of the adjoining golf club decided to "share equally" a £63.75M ($84.3M) offer for their "precious" 73 acres, according to Kevin Mitchell of the London GUARDIAN. After a "quick" discussion, Wimbledon Park Golf Cub, which is across the road from the main gates of the tennis grounds, "resolved by more than the required 75% majority to alter its articles of association so it can split the spoils between all 750 members rather than just those who have been there more than 10 years." That is a "smart choice" because three years ago, it "was offered a mere" £25M ($33.1M). The club will "decide finally in December whether or not to accept the once-and-for-all bid by the All England Club," which owns the "dwindling lease." One Wimbledon member said, "This is their Brexit. They have to make a call one way or another -- in or out." Annual membership at Wimbledon Park, "after a joining fee" of £3,000 ($3,970), costs up to £1,450 ($1,920), "no hardship for the likes of Piers Morgan and Ant and Dec." But the "delicious dilemma for all of them was an obvious one." Take £85,000 ($112,400) each after tax and "withdraw to a nine-hole course at the rear of the property, or maintain the status quo until the lease expires" in '41 -- and blow £63.75M. Some members of Wimbledon Park are "married couples or partners, so they stand to make or lose" a combined £170,000 ($224,900). One source said, "There are plenty of alternatives in the area if they wanted to join another club" (THE GUARDIAN, 10/10).