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Wembley loss up to £175m

After FA Cup decision Multiplex eases schedule to cut wage bill while morale sinks

MULTIPLEX has admitted that losses on its disastrous Wembley stadium job have risen to around £175 million.

The Australian firm was due to make the announcement at its interim results presentation in Sydney earlier today (Thursday).

Local analysts were expecting chief executive Andrew Roberts to announce losses of up to £200 million.

Mr Roberts delivered the news just 48 hours after the Football Association finally admitted defeat in its battle to stage this year's FA Cup Final match at the rebuilt stadium on May 13.

Before today's announcement, Multiplex's official losses were just under £75 million. Construction News understands the latest £100 million cost hike is largely down to the money it has had to pay to get the steelwork finished.

Hollandia, which replaced Cleveland Bridge in summer 2004, will have been paid close to £100 million by the time it finishes its contract. This is in addition to the £58 million Multiplex has already paid to Cleveland Bridge.

A source said: 'Multiplex will end up paying Hollandia £100 million. They lost a minimum five months replacing Cleveland Bridge. Hollandia never had a chance because they were coming in new to the job.

That's why the cup final is off to Cardiff.' In a statement to the Sydney Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Multiplex said it was 'disappointed' by the FA's decision to switch the final to Cardiff and added: 'We understand the FA has made this decision on the basis that it requires 100 per cent certainty that the venue will be fully functional by May 13.' Workers at Wembley now expect to be on the job until August after electricians said labour agency Beaver Management Services had scaled back working hours and laid off 100 sparks.

A site source said: 'By getting rid of the electricians they've just cut £100,000 off the weekly wage bill and reduction of the hours as well is part of Multiplex putting in place a more realistic schedule for the job. We've been told we could be here until August.

'They cleared out all of the electricians on the third and the fifth floor, although there are rumours that some of them will be brought back onto the project on price work, which will be cheaper. Morale is extremely low and there isn't a lot of work going on.' On Tuesday FA chief Brian Barwick confirmed the cup final would be in Cardiff. He added: 'Due to the magnitude of the cup final, we are not prepared to compromise or take any risks on the stadium being unable to stage such a significant event.'