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Penalty shoot-out looms at Wembley

AGENDA

WHAT is it with national stadiums? First Laing had a go in Wales and ended up being sold for a pound.Now Multiplex seems to be going down the same path, as Wembley turns into a nightmare for the Australian giant.

Standing in the Millennium stadium in Cardiff it is hard to envisage how such a job could bankrupt a firm.The ground is beautiful (particularly if West Ham win the play-offs) and it stands out as a national icon.

The same will be true of Wembley.Anyone catching a flight into Heathrow can't help but notice what an impression the new stadium makes on the London skyline.

There has been a competition to nominate a name for the walkway into the new ground. But perhaps we should just cut to the chase and let an accountant sponsor it, because the money men are now circling around Multiplex and the hole Wembley has blown in its balance sheet.

You can see why the big firms chase important jobs like national stadiums - it's all about prestige and making a name for yourself. But in less starry-eyed boardrooms the feeling must be that you wouldn't touch a job like that with a bargepole.The media watches you like a hawk and any delay, accident or dispute hits the headlines before you can say 'what about my margin?'

We are in a bidding frenzy now for the 2012 Olympic Games and, if we win, sports grounds will have to be built and revamped around the capital.

But who on earth would want to construct them? You can almost see the headlines now - 'Builders lose Olympic race' as deadlines are busted and the industry is dragged through the mud once again.

It would be a shame if bad publicity made the industry totally risk-averse.

But it's no coincidence that our biggest stadium job is being built by a foreign firm.

It will be a brave domestic contractor that ever enters the race again for a national sports project.