Wembley Stadium Project: Strategic Management Operations


The 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium, possessed by the Football Association (FA) and located at Wembley Park, London, saw its dawn on March 9, 2007. It ranks second in Europe in terms of size and functions as the main national stadium of England. The famous stadium, designed by Fosters and Partners, closely resembles the old Wembley Stadium, popularly known as The Twin Towers. In terms of structure, Wembley stadium has 2618 toilets which is the highest number ever realized in the world. It has a 0.6-mile circumference and surprisingly, during its construction, the peak hosted approximately 3,500 workers. Worth noting is that before it began its operation under the Wembley National Stadium Limited, it was preceded by a good deal of challenges especially when the stadium was under construction. The project management team did not fully adhere to the then laid down procedures that, if seriously followed, would have seen the end of the project at its expected time specifically in the year 2004. Most of the targeted goals could not be realized as a result, following the controversy that began right from October 2002, the beginning time of the construction process. For instance, coming up with a state-of-the-heart National Stadium was the sole objective.

The original plan of the project indicated that the demolition of the former stadium was to take place first followed by the reconstruction process. According to the laid down timetable, this destruction was programmed to happen in 2000 with the entire construction process expected to be over some time in 2003. However, following some inevitable barriers ranging from financial to legal, the project experienced a delay. The program also indicated that the stadium was to host its first FA competitions in 2006, immediately after the end of its construction. However, the dreams were far from their reality. There were even rumors from the workers that it could not be over at the planned time and as a result, the time needed postponement. In fact, Robinson (2004, pp.23) asserts “…worries were expressed as to whether the stadium would actually be completed on time”. The reasons behind this unexpected delay as well as the experienced increments in the cost of the materials required in the project are subject to debate. Analysis of the reasons for these disappointments is among the many issues that this paper seeks to address. The performance of the management team is the root cause.

Analysis of Reasons

The poor performance of the project management department receives the highest blame concerning the failure of the project. The management team plays the most crucial role in any project, as it determines its success. It is the objective of this department to deliver the best result possible. It bears the responsibility of telling what is needed in the project as well as when it is needed. This department to checks into detail the amounts of the relevant materials required for the construction process. Time, money, resources, as well as the workforce, form part of what the department manages. Therefore, building on these few expositions, it suffices to infer that any failure associated with any project has to owe its roots from the management department. Wembley’s project failure then must have arisen majorly because of the irresponsibility of its management department. It clearly signifies that it did not manage the available resources in order and in an order that ensured their availability in the right area, at the right time, amount, and more importantly, within the budget. Targeting the management scholars, Charles (2006, pp.45) uses the Wembley project failure as an illustration claiming, “It is easy to see the impact of failed project management in works such as Wembley stadium. It damaged its reputation thereby hampering the ability to gain further work” clearly showing the role the management played towards the disappointment. Cost and time to explain the failure of the project.

The issue of time and money comes in handy in explaining the reason behind the failure. Sad enough, records have it that the Wembley stadium suffered an eight-year-long delay since the tabling of its plan in 1996. Delays came right from the management that could not plan on the specific date when the project was to kick off. There was a delay in the release of the required cost of the materials required in the project. The coming up with the suitable design was also delayed and therefore affected the entire time for the beginning of the construction process, which on the other hand affected the set events to take place soon after the end of the erection process. Farzar (2006, pp.68) says, “…when the project first started it was delayed for two yrs due to financial and…” The project suffered many financial troubles especially after Wembley National Stadium Limited (WNSL) changed the former project design, which led to multiplex penalties during the paying process because of the delay. In addition, the issue of financial problems led to the quitting of the project by some partners. For instance, there arose a problem between Cleavage Bridge, the steel contractor, and Multiplex. The contractor withdrew from the project claiming that they were not to get the payment for their materials. The events of March 2006 also explain the delay.

The project witnessed a fall of its roof in early March 2006. The falling contributed significantly towards the delay as well as cost increases. “The temporary roof support which fell by over half a meter in march 2006 resulted in the evacuation of 3000 construction workers and delayed work while inspections and reports were carried out” (Bradley, 2004, pp.13). The use of wrong concrete as it was later revealed was the key cause of the fall and hence the delay. In addition and during the same month, there were issues of light failures resulting from the roofing that induced darkness to those who worked from inside the structure. The Australian firm is also responsible for the increased costs.

The extra sums of money paid by the project blame the Australian firm Multiplex. The firm submitted for the job in the year 2000. Records reveal that the then approximated expenditure was 326.5 million pounds and by the time the firm went for the signing of the contract, the cost had shot to 445 million pounds in the year 2003, a time that people believe that the construction could have been finished then. Therefore, the firm is responsible for both the delay as well as the increased costs. This was actually the reason behind the rescheduling of the FA cup finals to May 2006. Worse too was that by the time the project was entirely finished, the prices had gone past twice the initial one. It was approximately 757 million pounds. The designers of the stadium are also accountable for the delay. Mott McDonald’s work of designing the stadium too explains the realized delay. In fact, Albert (2005, pp.45) exposits “Mott MacDonalds design for the Wembley steelwork was not fit for purpose and the initial designs were not correct, constructible, coordinated and consistent”. There are rumors that letters had been issued revealing the bad reputation of the designer, which the management ignored and hence the realized losses, delays, and extra costs. The fore-planned activities to take place in the stadium too explain the incurred extra costs.

The planned FA cup scheduled to happen in the field significantly led to the incurred extra costs, though not directly. The activities occupied the minds of the worker so much that what they purposed was to hurry the work, regardless of how effective it was, to make sure that Wembley hosted the match. Their forgetting to erect the objected state-of-the-art stadium as efficiently as planned led to the falling of the roof of 2006 thereby bringing in some unbudgeted expenses. Therefore, were it not for Multiplex’s hurrying of the job, then the evidenced delay, as well as the expenses, could not have been incurred. The season was also blamed for the losses as people claimed that the contractors began their work at the wrong time forcing them to rush it before the succeeding rainy and stormy season came. As aforementioned, there stands a significant relationship between the problems afore-discussed and the role of the project management.

How the Project Management is Responsible

Considering the realized delays as well as cost increments discussed earlier on, it suffices to infer that were it not for the project management, the problems would not have been incurred. In simple terms, it was the project management’s fault as far as the disappointments are concerned. However, one can ask, ‘What is a project?’ Presser (2004, pp.45) comes in handy to define a project as a “…management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a

certain business case…” The issue of management stands out in the definition. Therefore, project management on the other hand, commonly known as the central department, is the body that ensures that the project under its supervision delivers the best results ever. This department checks into details any entering as well as any exiting resources set for the project. Worth noting is that the workforce to forms part of its areas of supervision. However, time, cost, and quality are the main areas of emphasis to any project management, implying that any complaint concerning any of these three must be originating from the project management. Therefore, the cost issues noted in the Wembley stadium project are a fault of the management.

There were evident issues of cost increments of various materials utilized in the Wembley project, which on the other hand led to an unexpected construction cost of the entire stadium at large. It is the role of the management to plan for these costs before the project begins. It needs to have records showing the various requirements of the project as well as their corresponding costs. This was not the case for the Wembley project management. For instance, following the fall of the roof witnessed in the year 2006, large sums of money were used to purchase the right concrete as the department revealed the cause of the fall as the use of the wrong type of concrete. The management clearly bears the blame since it failed to come up with the right concrete type for the project, otherwise implying the wrong cost of the resource as it appeared in the then budget. Moreover, it is the role of the management to find out the suitable design for its project. Wembley stadium project suffered extra costs resulting from the project management’s failure to identify the best and the most realist design for the stadium, hence implying a misused role of the management.

Bestowed upon the management is the role to manage time. Before any project begins, the management discusses the issue of time at large. The department has to tell the approximated time of the end of the project. This knowledge is quite crucial as it makes it clear for it in determining the amount of money to be allocated to the work force especially the casual who get their pay on a daily basis. This exposition makes it clear that the longer the time the large the amount of money used. It remains evident that the department reported a failure as far as the issue of time was concerned. As Webber (2003, pp.12) puts it, “Schedules and plans are important management records”. The project reported a delay, not only in starting date of the project but also in its end. According to the original timetable, the project was to start in the year 1999 but as Baxton (2007, pp.5) exposits “…it was delayed for two years due to financial and political difficulties before eventually getting underway in late 2002”. Therefore, it is sufficient to associate the management with this time issue. In addition, the project was finished years ahead of what the schedule indicated. It was the responsibility of the management to manage the time and therefore, following the realized delay, the management is responsible.

The management too is responsible for choice of contractors it makes for its project. Wembley project chose Multiplex firm to carry out the construction process. It does not imply that this was the only firm qualified for the duty. Right from the beginning of the project, this firm had indicated signs of its being unfit for the duty. For instance, it delayed the beginning of the construction. As records indicate, the firm submitted for the duty a year ahead of what the original project program indicated. In addition, the firm was much blamed as it played a major role behind the extra costs incurred. For instance, the amount allocated for the project in 1999 differed significantly from the amount in 2002 when the firm officially began its work. Despite all these indicators, the management did not take any step of replacing the firm with another even after it was warned of its inefficiency. Therefore, the management remains accountable for this problem. However, the fact that there is a problem is an implication of a solution somewhere for the problem. Therefore, following the accountability of the Wembley project management to the incurred losses, this paper too seeks to address the management actions that could have been taken to better control the project, increase its chance for successful delivery against time, and cost targets. Proper planning is among the strategic management actions.

Strategic Management Actions

Proper planning of any project is one of the most crucial agenda of any management. Time, resources, and cost constraints can produce recommendable results once well and fully planned. These issues were much evident in the Wembley project and therefore, the management ought to come up with proper and realist plans for these constraints. Another strategic and working action that helps produce good results in any project is the participation of users in the refining and the delivery sections. Most of the resources that got lost in the Wembley project came majorly because of the absence of this category of people. It is very possible to realize that a lot of theft occurred between the resource issuing and the resource using departments simply because there were no people ensuring the delivery of the right resource to the right area and at the right time. Therefore, the management ought to incorporate this class of people as part of the work force, if at all success was it goal.

Another working strategy that the management ought to put into consideration was the criterion of picking its work force. Most of the workers had been employed not based on their experience and skills but rather their physical appearance like size and their energetic powers. If the management could have introduced this test among its workers, then some incurred expenses would have not appeared in the process. The management too could have featured a sense of ownership of the project, which helps in realizing that the project’s success is to their advantage. Risk management too is crucial as far as the success of any project is concerned because it helps the management to identify the possible barriers towards its success. With this information, it is able to prepare for the risks so that come their time, the project will not be affected. The management needed to have this strategy within their proximity to achieve its expected success. Therefore, basing on these expositions concerning Wembley project management, any other project management including Wembley’s can learn a lot.

Lessons to the Management

Wembley project is heavy laden with lessons to the project management, not only of the Wembley project, but also of any other. For instance, the management can learn that a mistake, whether slight or considerable, can amount to terrible losses or expenses. The poor planning of the Wembley project by the management might seem a minor thing but it is as a result that the whole project experienced the aforementioned disappointment. It is deducible that the management of any project is the determinant of whether the outcome is a success or a failure and since it seeks to succeed, a good deal of vigilance ought to be nurtured, not only in managing of time, money, and resources, but also in its choice of work force. Skills and experience need to be the parameters defining who is and who is not fit for the job. In addition, the management should learn that the choice of the contractor matters much in any project and not all are fit for some projects like the Wembley stadium one. It is also upon the management to learn that the carefulness is a vital factor worth considering when selecting what materials to use in their projects. Inasmuch as this experience was bad, the lessons learnt from this project have been of great use to the management, since cases of similar mistakes have not been reported, explaining its current good reputation.


The Wembley stadium, the largest and the most beautiful, faced a good deal of challenges before it came into being. It turns quite unbelievable that despite its good reputation, it passes for the most preferred stadium especially for the FA cup finals. The project suffered a significant delay, not only of its expected starting date, but also its completing date. In fact, records indicate that it was to start two years earlier. Moreover, the project suffered cost increments resulting from the delay. However, these expenses emerged purely from the project management that failed to manage time, money, workforce as well as the resources allocated for the project. As a lesson to the management, a mistake whether small or large, is enough to produce a significant mess as it was realized in the Wembley project. Therefore, a lot of vigilance in any project is of paramount importance.

Reference List

Albert, H., 2005. MacDonald’s Design still wanting: More Alternatives Needed. New York: Rutledge.

Baxton, M., 2007. Delayed Construction. Britain: Bingham Press.

Bradley, F., 2004. Wembley Roof Fall: Another Disaster. New York: Word Press.

Charles, D., 2006. The Wembley Project Failure. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Farzar, C., 2006. The 6-Month Stadium Delay. Maxwell: Maxwell Publishers.

Presser, T.F., 2004. The Great Wembley Project. New Castle: Hinny Press.

Robinson, P., 2004. The New Wembley Stadium Challenges. Chester: Pearson.

Webber, M., 2003. The Project Management of Wembley Stadium Project. New York: Horns Publishers.

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