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a blog by Chris Barrow

Huff and puff and blow the house down

My lunchtime bowl of creamy vegetable soup is nearly sputtered out as I watch the aerial shots above Wembley Stadium, showing that a welding has failed in the structure. Thousands of hard-hatted builders and consultants evacuated to a nearby car park and work stopped in its tracks, after we have already been told that the FA Cup final (the Superbowl of soccer) has been moved to Cardiff, Wales. The Wembley project was already behind schedule, well over budget and becoming a national embarrassment. Now, as the former CEO of Wembley said on the TV – a public relations disaster. No doubt the spin-doctors will be meeting as I write this blog, composing suitably soothing words for the evening news broadcasts. No doubt there will be comparisons with the excellent facilities on show every day from the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia (a truly beautiful city). No doubt the Germans will be doubly proud to show their preparations for the FIFA World Cup in a few months time. What is it with the English and buildings? The Millennium Dome was a scandalous white elephant. Now Wembley follows in that tradition. I did consider booking tickets to see The Rolling Stones at Wembley on 20th August this year – but the 200 pound+ ticket price was an insult to my intelligence. Now I’m glad I didn’t – can you imagine what might happen when Mick and the old boys start banging out Honky Tonk Woman? It’s a great idea for a movie – but not in real life please. Inevitably, there is a business management moral in here somewhere but I’ll let you figure that out for yourself. As a Mancunian, I cannot resist the temptation to point out that my own soccer club, Manchester United, have one of the best stadium’s in the world and that, just a few miles across town, our arch rivals, Manchester City, occupy the Blue Camp – the stadium that housed the last Commonwealth Games – and a very pretty structure it is too. Maybe the London city boys who have greased each others palms from the Wembley project could have taken a leaf out of the book from the people who made Manchester a great sporting venue. Or maybe, they should have listened to the popular vote – and built a national stadium in the Midlands, to serve the whole population, rather than this poorly situated North London venue where the roof is now falling in both physically and metaphorically. London to host the Olympics? God help us.

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