Sample Case Study on Wembley Stadium

Executive Summary

Project management is one of the most significant aspects that determine the success or failure of projects. Most projects succeed because of effective project management facilitated by the stakeholders involved. This report focuses on the project management of Wembley Stadium, one of the most recent projects to have been completed in the UK. The report includes a case background that provides historical details about the project. The report also contains a section that explains and analyses how the project was organized. Other important sections of the paper include the options or alternatives evaluated and the choices made during the project, the project’s critical success factors, project success and project management success definitions, the stakeholders and how they are involved in the project, the risks and strategies to cope with the risks involved in the project, the strategic objective of the project, timeline or schedules of the project’s programs, as well as the estimates involved in the project. Other important sections forming part of this report include the conclusion and the recommendati

Case Background

Wembley Stadium is considered as one of the largest and most important stadiums in Europe and the United Kingdom, the stadium has hosted several competitions such as the Olympics in 2012, FA Cup finals, Capital One Cup finals, as well as finals of the UEFA Champions League finals. Its capacity and ultra-modern state allow it to hold a major global competition such as the World Cup. The initiative and development of a major stadium in England commenced in 1994, and the body responsible for this was the English Sports Council. A number of key events towards its construction and development then followed when in December 1996, Wembley, the present location of the stadium was identified and confirmed as the site where the ultra-modern stadium would be constructed. According to Aritua et al. (2008), the cost of its construction was estimated at over 120 million Euros. In 1997, a body known as the English National Stadium Trust (ENST) was chosen to take charge of the stadium’s establishment. The body then formed a company known as the English National Stadium Development Company Ltd, which had the responsibility of implementing the project. Before the project was rolled out, challenges such as funding and site location came up. In 1998, there were discussions between Sports England and the Football Association about funding of the project. After the funding and site problems had been solved, the design of the national stadium was launched in 1999 July, and it was accepted by the general public. Although the construction of the stadium faced a number of challenges, the financial assistance by the government as well as good management saw the completion and opening of the stadium in 2007 after it had undergone a number of demolitions and renovations. Barclay et al. (2007) pinpoint that the stadium has 90,000 seats making it a UEFA category four stadium. It is under the ownership and management of The Football Association and the total cost of its construction is798 million Euros.

Organization of the project

As argued by Barclay et al. (2007), several bodies and associations were involved in the organization and planning of the Wembley Stadium project. In 1996, the English Sports Council was responsible for the identification of the site of the project after which, in 1997, the English National Stadium trust that was a charitable organization stepped in with the aim of overseeing the project. Construction of Wembley Stadium was a responsibility left to the English National Stadium Development Company Limited in 1997. In the same year, there was a grant application made by the English National Stadium Trust for the body known as Sports England to earmark the project’s funding. 1998, there were problems reported by the English National Stadium Trust about the acquisition of the old Wembley Stadium business from Wembley Plc, and the ENST faced competition from bidders such as Arsenal FC among others. There were discussions that were purposefully meant for funding arrangements between the FA and Sports England in June 1998. It was decided that lottery contributions would help finance the project, and in 1998 November, the Secretary of State issued directions for lottery distribution. In December 1998, there were negotiations to see the purchase of the old Wembley Stadium business from the relevant authorities. In 1999, there was the signing of the Main Lottery Funding Agreement, which stood at 116.74 million Euros, related FA Event Staging Agreement, as well as the Purchase Agreement for the site of the new stadium. By March 1999, the bodies and people responsible had completed the acquisition of the stadium business as well as the site, and since then, the Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) would see that the project is completed. The period between June 1999 and September 2000 saw the WNSL seek for the stadium’s contractor. In July 1999, the design of the stadium was made public, and there was an announcement by the Secretary of State that when completed, athletics would not be part of Wembley stadium. Besides, the secretary of state announced that a repayment of 20 million Euros of the Lottery grant would be done to Spot England by the Football Association. In 2001, FA came into partnership with the government of the project, and this saw the government offer 150 million Euros of financial assistance. In 2002, there was an agreement that Sports England would reduce the number of public seats in Wembley stadium as requested by WNSL. Amidst the challenges that the project faced, it was rolled out in 2003 and its completion and opening was in 2007.

How the options/alternatives are evaluated, and choices made

The option of choosing the old Wembley stadium was evaluated by various bodies, and a choice was made. The site of the old Wembley stadium was found to be favorable for the project at hand. The other alternative was the provision of funds for the project, and the bodies concerned with the project sat and realized that the project’s cost was very high. According to Aritua et al. (2008), there were agreements that saw the project funded by Lottery funding, as well as funds from the government. However, the two alternatives did not fund the project smoothly as there were disagreements and wrangles among the authorities involved in the project. Notably, the evaluations and choices made during the project were done on the basis of effectiveness and efficiency. Authorities to control the project were evaluated and chosen on the ability to successful see the completion of the project. Moreover, the sources of funds for the project were chosen and evaluated based on the amount that would be channeled towards the project. Lottery funding would produce a huge amount of funds, and that is why a decision was made that it would help fund the project. The government’s financial power and stability are undeniable, and thus, the bodies concerned came up with a decision of seeking financial assistance from the government.

Critical Success Factors

The success of the Wembley stadium project is owed to a number of factors. First, despite a few flaws here and there, the management of the project was effective and it did everything possible to achieve the project’s success. Arguably, effective project management is among the significant elements that if taken seriously, can lead to the success of a given project. It is without any doubt that the Wembley project was managed by experienced operators and bodies. For example, the Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) did everything possible to achieve the project’s success. This included looking for the best contractors for the project, coming up with a design that was accepted by the general public in England, as well as sourcing for funds that would engineer and ensure that the project is complete. WNSL can be appreciated for its efforts of seeking financial assistance from the government, which saw the latter channel an estimated 150 million Euros towards the project. Second, time provided for project was a major factor towards its successful completion (Barclay et al., 2007). Apparently, time is another serious element when it comes to the successful completion of various projects. The shorter the time allocated to a project, the more the confidence the members of the community have on the project. Apparently, the Wembley stadium was to start in 2000 and end in 2003, with an aim of hosting the 2006 World Cup competition. As much as financial problems derailed the completion of the project within the given period, it prompted the contractors and the authorities involved to push for its faster completion. The stadium was completed and opened four years later in 2007, and this was only an outcome of the pressure the contractors had because of the time they were supposed to complete the project. Had the project been allocated more time, there is a possibility that it would not have been completed as fast as was seen. The other critical success factor for the project was the huge budget and funds that were channeled towards the project. A budget is an official estimation that is necessary for the completion of an entire project to be realized. Although a budget can be modified by approvals during the project, they determine whether a given project will succeed or fail. In the case of Wembley stadium, the huge budget was funded by a national lottery that contributed an estimated 116.74 million Euros, as well as funds from the government. Insufficiency of funds would have led to a total failure of the project (Barclay et al., 2007).

Project success and project management success definitions

The project’s success cannot be applauded as such. This is owed to the fact there were a number of shortcomings experienced during the project. Hart (2007) articulates that the project was scheduled to begin in 2000 and end in 2003, in order to host the 2006 World Cup competition. Unfortunately, there were delays that saw the project completed in 2007. Moreover, as expected, the funds availed for the project would be sufficient enough to oversee the entire project. This was not the case, as finances were limited and this resulted in the contractors delaying in completing the project. Conversely, describing the project’s management as a success would be an overstatement. This is because there were disagreements and wrangles between the project’s operators and some of the stakeholders. Besides, WNSL’s management was a failure in the beginning when there was a delay in the announcement of the project’s development in 2006.

Stakeholders and how they are involved

The Wembley stadium project saw a number of stakeholders involved. First, the Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) was responsible for the hiring of contractors that would see that the project is completed. WNSL also came up with the design of the project together with the sourcing for more funds for the project. Second, the Football Association (FA) was the project’s owner and worked tirelessly so that the project was completed in time. The FA provided part of the funds that were channeled towards the project. The football body also came into a partnership with the government to boost funding for the project that saw the government contribute an estimated 150 million Euros towards the project. The other stakeholder involved is the Australian Multiplex Company that took care of the construction of the stadium.

Risks and strategies to cope with risks early in the project

Barclay et al. (2007) state that there were a number of risks that the Wembley stadium project faced. Financial constraints were looming large for the project, and this would derail its completion. In overcoming the risk, the WSNL sought for more funds in avenues such as National Lottery. The FA also stepped in to provide funds for the project and went ahead to get into a partnership with the government that contributed some funds towards the project. The other risk seen during the project was the incompetence exhibited by stakeholders such as the WSNL. In overcoming this risk, the FA board had to put pressure on the WSNL so that the project was completed on the expected date.

Strategic objectives of the project

When coming up with the project, the individuals at Football Association had several objectives in mind. The first objective of the project was to benefit the FA by boosting its profitability. The FA targeted that during a certain period, the stadium would be generating funds that would be used to run the country’s football and sports activities. The other objective of the project was to host the 2006 World Cup though this was not achieved because of the delay completing the project. The project also aimed at offering something new to the society and community of the country. This objective has been achieved as Wembley is the most expensive stadium in the world, the largest in the UK and mentioned by Barnes & Dickson (2000), it is one of the largest in the world with most of its seats under cover. In fact, people from UK are proud of the stadium and the manner in which it has attracted competitions from various parts of the world and Europe. Recently, it hosted the UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund football clubs. The other objective of the project was to act as host to global and national music events.


The idea of building the new Wembley Stadium was initiated in 1996, and it was scheduled to begin in 2000 and end in 2003. Unluckily, financial constraints and other delays pushed the year of completion of the project to 2007.


The project was estimated to cost 757 million Euros, and this was obtained from contributions for the project. Among the contributors was the public sector that offered an estimation of 161 million Euros towards the project. Funds were also obtained from a lottery, and this was estimated to be 120 million Euros. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport contributed 20 million Euros while the London Development Agency contributed 21 million Euros towards the project. The estimations are shown below:



Figure 1: Estimated funding for the Wembley Stadium project

Source: National Audit Office


In a nutshell, although Wembley Stadium project experienced a number of challenges such as insufficiency of funds, incompetence of contractors, as well as the delay of the project, it is considered one of the biggest projects ever in the UK. In fact, the projects objectives are slowly being achieved. This is owed to the fact that the stadium has hosted a number of global as well as national competitions. The stadium has also attracted global attention and is considered among the best stadia in Europe and across the globe.


It is recommended that for similar future projects, there must be various sources of funds to finance such huge projects. In this case, the interferences and delays of the project were because of the insufficiency of funds experienced. It is also recommended that for similar projects in future, the stakeholders must involve competent and trusted contractors with the necessary knowledge and skills who will facilitate the timely completion of such projects. Moreover, with the successful completion of the Wembley Stadium, the investors must have value for their money invested. Thus, it is important for the managing body to attract as many competitions as possible to the venue to enhance the project’s profitability. It is also recommended that a body should be established to facilitate the maintenance and security of the project.



Aritua, B., Bower, D., & Turner, M. 2008. Managing the delivery of iconic football stadiums in England. Proceedings of the ICE-Management, Procurement and Law, 161(2), 55-60.

Barclay, P., Powell, K., & Jenkins, D. 2007. Wembley: national icon. Munich, Prestel.

Barnes, M., & Dickson, M. 2000. Widespan roof structures. London, Thomas Telford. 241-245

Hart, S. 2007. “The goal that means Wembley is back at last”. The Daily Telegraph (London). Available online at: