• Sat
  • Apr 19, 2014
  • Updated: 2:56am

Extra time

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 2006, 12:00am

The real winner of this year's football World Cup was Germany, not Italy - at least in the eyes of Londoners. Certainly, Germans are being hailed for their effectiveness in organising the best-ever tournament, with efficient ticketing arrangements, little or no hooliganism and veritable riots of friendliness in the superbly marshalled fan parks.


The biggest loser, it seems, in Londoners' eyes at least, is not France (or Zinedine Zidane), but South Africa, which will host the next tournament. Commentators here (from the press, in particular) are already proclaiming that it will be the worst World Cup ever. The infrastructure of roads and railways is woefully behind schedule, they claim, as are the stadiums - trimmed down in size and number by planners due to fears of not being finished on time.


But perhaps Londoners should look a little closer to home before casting such aspersions about.


The fact is that the new Wembley Stadium was again hit by construction delays last week, while the bill for the 2012 Olympics is rising faster than the stadium ever will.


When built, the stadium will be the tallest such arena in the world, the only one to sport an aircraft warning beacon, plus space for 2,000 people to go to the toilet at the same time (half-time, usually).


But now, the GBP757 million ($10.8 billion) project will not be ready until after September. It had been due to host its first event in May: the FA Cup Final. Troubled construction giant Multiplex is blaming the owners for the delays. The owners, naturally, blame the builders.


Either way, it doesn't impress bookmakers, who are now offering odds of 7/2 that Wembley will not be ready for next year's FA Cup Final.


Fortunately, no one is offering odds on the 2012 Olympics being delayed. However, no one is taking bets on the bill not rising further, either. The cost has already spiralled to GBP5 billion, up from GBP3.5 billion, as ministers seek to ensure the vote-winning regeneration of east London - a key component of the bid.


The rise is down to 'radical reappraisals of facilities', costs and the proposals for a lasting legacy in an area with four of the poorest boroughs in Britain. Forty-thousand new homes will be built, with 30,000 new jobs created.


There are also reports that the security bill for the Games may double, to GBP380 million.


The building plans are all good for east London, if the work ever goes ahead. Two years after pulling down bridges over canals and roads as part of work to extend the East London Tube Line, the new ones have only just started going up. If it takes two years to achieve this, how long will it take to build an Olympic park and stadium?


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