The new Wembley Stadium will not be ready to host a major event until June 2007, despite the firm responsible for its construction claiming that building work will be completed considerably before next year's FA Cup final.
Construction company Multiplex said work on the stadium was now "substantially complete", apart from the installation of the last remaining seats, but blamed owners Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) for failing to acquire "a number of critical works" required for the stadium to open.
Multiplex said that the holding company needed to stage a series of test events at Wembley in order to obtain the necessary licenses and official approvals needed to operate the stadium.
"Unless and until WNSL holds and successfully completes this series of test events, and obtain the required approvals, Multiplex will be prevented from achieving practical completion," the company said in a statement on the Australian stock exchange.
Yesterday WNSL said that it remained confident that work on the £757 million London venue would be complete by the end of this year, despite fears of further delays.
The stadium was originally due to open in August 2005, but Multiplex has successively pushed the deadline back, with a tentative deadline of September 2006 now set to be missed.
Multiplex said that after completing its own analysis of WNSL's preparedness, it had concluded that Wembley would not be ready to hold a test event to trial its 90,000 capacity before June 2007.
"The analysis has been reviewed with an expert in the operation of major stadia and indicates that it is unlikely that the stadium will be able to hold a test event for 90,000 spectators before June 2007", said Multiplex.
Such a delay would mean that next year's FA Cup final, scheduled for May, will again be played at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.