Examination of Witnesses (Questions 35
THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2001
35. Thank you very much indeed for coming to
see us again with Mr Stubbs. Mr Fearn is going to begin the questions.
(Sir Rodney Walker) Thank you.
36. Good morning. What difference have you made
since you became Chairman?
(Sir Rodney Walker) I do not think I
can at this stage claim to have made any difference. I have spent
the weeks since my appointment interrogating the entire project
both from a design point of view and from a business point of
view and I think the fact that I have been unable to identify
any significant errors in any aspects of the stadium is itself
a tribute to Mr Bates and the work that he has done on the project.
It is a matter of record that I have, on a number of previous
occasions and I am happy to repeat today, said that I think that,
in the fullness of time when the new stadium is built, the project
will owe a great debt of gratitude to Ken Bates for his dynamism
in driving the project forward to the point that was reached in
37. Why did you decide to close Wembley Stadium
before the financial package was in place?
(Sir Rodney Walker) The decision to close Wembley
was not mine; that occurred prior to my appointment.
38. Would you say that was a mistake?
(Sir Rodney Walker) No, I do not think so. The decision
to close Wembley was taken because, at the time, it was believed
that the funding proposal that was taken would have received the
appropriate level of support. I suspect that, had we known or
had it been known earlier last year that the funding of the new
stadium was to be delayed, it may well be that the decision taken
would have been different, but perhaps Mr Stubbs, who was part
of that, might well enlighten you further.
39. I am really after how much profit you have
lost by closing it too early.
(Sir Rodney Walker) Mr Stubbs will answer that question
(Mr Stubbs) Effectively, the way it has worked is
that the FA are continuing to pay the sums they would have paid
if they were playing their matches there. So, in terms of looking
at WNSL as a free-standing entity, the loss of profit is not a
real issue because we are still being paid by the FA under the
existing staging agreement as if the matches were played there,
so we are still a solvent business because of that.