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23/12/01 . by Eben Black . The Sunday Times . UK
Ministers to Stop Sponsor Deal for Rebuilt Wembley (excerpt)
Ministers are preparing to block any attempt by the Football Association (FA) to name the new Wembley stadium after a potential sponsor such as McDonald's.
Plans for rebuilding on the site are still in chaos and subject to a further four-month delay after an announcement in the Commons last week by Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary. Now there are concerns in Whitehall that the FA may see sponsorship as an answer to its financial problems.
However, it was made clear last night that any attempt to rename Wembley - as the McDonald's stadium, for example, or the BT national stadium - will be opposed. If the FA stood firm it would be faced with having to repay the £120m lottery money which its operating arm, Wembley National Stadium Ltd, received to buy the site.
"The lottery agreement is clear - there can be no sponsor's name attached to the stadium. If that is broken the penalty will
be invoked," said a senior government official.