20 June 2002 | David Arminas
Government procurement advisers have been drafted in to monitor the progress of the controversial £715 million Wembley National Stadium in London.
A spokesman for Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) said there are plans to give the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) a role when the stadium is being built.
He said: "We think it is a good idea to have the OGC to keep our stakeholders in the project. We accept that our stakeholder management has not been a success in the past."
Contractors are lined up at the old stadium to start work on the new 90,000-seat ground as soon as funding is in place.
The government has come under fire for sinking about £120 million of national lottery cash into the project, which has been labelled a procurement disaster by a parliamentary committee and a purchasing consultant involved in the project until last year.
Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, has written to all heads of bodies that distribute lottery cash, instructing them that the OGC must be brought in to vet future high-risk, high-profile projects if they are to receive lottery handouts.
The spokesman for Wembley told SM: "The OGC has already done a Gateway review of the project, and found it well run and well managed."
An independent report released last month was highly critical of WNSL, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Football Association set up to administer the project.
It questioned the tendering process and value for money in appointing a main contractor, saying that "as public money was involved, it would have been prudent to have followed public-sector best practice".
WNSL expects to finalise a deal with German bank Westdeutsche Landesbank in early August for site work at Wembley to begin immediately after, said the spokesman.
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which through Sport England handed the lottery cash to WNSL, said it was ultimately WNSL's decision whether it involved the OGC.
"The stadium is a private project, not a public one. Decisions like whether to involve the OGC are for WNSL," he said.