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Wembley to break even by 2015, says FA chairman

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

image captionWembley's income is boosted by other, non-sporting events

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has said that English football's national stadium, Wembley, will financially break even by 2015, one year later than previously planned.

"Wembley is doing very well, it has been extremely profitable," he said.

Mr Bernstein added that the rebuilt stadium was showing an annual operating profit of between £40m and £50m.

He said he expected the stadium, built for £757m and opened in 2007, to start pumping cash into the game by 2015.

But he said that large interest charges and other continuing costs remained an issue.

The FA, which owns the stadium through its subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Ltd, said earlier this year it envisaged Wembley breaking even in 2014.

But Mr Bernstein told delegates at the Leaders in Football event in London: "By 2015, Wembley should start putting money back into the game, instead of being subsidised by the game."

World-class venue

Preliminary financial figures for 2010 released earlier this month by the FA showed that it paid out £22m in net interest during the year, partly to service the loans taken out to build Wembley.

And last year, FA general secretary Alex Horne said the association had budgeted to subsidise Wembley by £20m a year in 2010 and 2011 and £12m a year in 2012 and 2013.

Wembley's business plan relies on concerts and other events to boost the bottom line, but the FA obviously also sees the stadium as a world-class football venue.

And Mr Bernstein said that this on-field goal had been greatly been helped by the successful staging of the Champions League final at Wembley in May between Barcelona and Manchester United.

"I think that is when the new stadium really came of age," he said.

He also said it was a great vote of confidence in the Wembley when Uefa decided to stage the Champions League final again at the stadium in 2015.

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