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LONDON-The Football Association has finally secured funding for its replacement Wembley Stadium in north London and demolition work will begin on site next week.

German investment bank West LB has put £426 million ($665 million)of funding in place which means the long-delayed project will finally proceed. England’s national game has not had a showpiece stadium for cup finals or internationals for the past two years since the old Wembley Stadium closed, and it will be another four years before the new stadium is ready. The delay had become increasingly embarrassing for the Government, with echoes of the political storm that surrounded the equally expensive Millennium Dome in Greenwich, south-east London.

The government itself will contribute £50 million ($78 million) to the project with £120 million ($190 million) coming from the National Lottery and the Football Association making up the remainder. It hopes to recoup its investment through the sale of premium seats for corporate entertainment.

The new stadium, designed by Foster & Partners and HOK, will house 90,000 sports fans. But if London succeeds in its bid for the 2012 or 2016 Olympic Games, then a running track could be inserted into the stadium, reducing capacity to 68,000.

A relieved Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Media, Culture and Sport, said: “Work on the new stadium can now start. It has been a long and, at times, painful journey to this point. But the project has, as a result of the concerted efforts over the last year, proved itself to be worthy of attracting commercial finance.”

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