Many people are excluded from taking part in sport, whether through a lack of good quality facilities and equipment, too few qualified coaches, or simply their own inability to meet the cost of participation. We also know that women and girls face specific barriers to participation, as do people with physical, sensory or learning disabilities. Our aim is therefore to remove these barriers, enabling everyone to improve their quality of life through sport.
The magnificent 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium opened in 2007. It stands on the site of the iconic and historic “Twin Towers” stadium originally opened in 1923 in preparation for the British Empire Exhibition the following year. The first ever event at the Stadium was the famous White Horse cup final in April 1923, whilst in 1948, Wembley was one of the venues for that year’s Olympic Games (as it was for the 2012 Games). It was also of course, the annual venue for the FA Cup final and England football internationals, as well as being home to a speedway team, greyhound racing and a host venue for many other sporting events.
The new stadium continues to provide a home for the England National football teams, alongside the state-of-the-art training venue at St George’s Park in Burton. Wembley also remains the “go to” venue for all major football fixtures in England – the men’s and women’s FA Cup finals; the League Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase finals; and the EFL play-off finals. It was also the lead venue for the 2020 men’s Euros – hosting a number of group fixtures, as well as the semi-finals and final, which saw England lose on penalties to Italy. Wembley also hosted the final of the delayed women’s Euros in 2022 – won so memorably by the Lionesses. A day that will live long in the memory.
The stadium has also hosted other sporting showpiece occasions such as the Rugby League Challenge Cup final and World Championship boxing bouts. In 2014, Wembley was the venue for the largest ever attendance at a Rugby Union club fixture and for several years in the 2010s hosted NFL American Football regular season matches.
Wembley Stadium is also renowned as one of the world’s great live music venues. Over the years, many of the greatest artists have performed on the Wembley stage, including Elton John, Queen, Wham!, Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, U2 and Michael Jackson. Oasis were the last to headline at the old stadium. Wembley also hosted the London leg of the legendary 1985 Live Aid fundraiser, as well as the Nelson Mandela 70th birthday concert and the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. Wembley remains an iconic venue for the music stars of today, with the Spice Girls, Ed Sheeran and Adele all having performed sold-out gigs in recent years.
The total rebuild cost for the stadium was close on £800 million, raised through a range of sources, including £120 million of lottery funding provided through Sport England. In recognition of this generous award, a legal agreement was put in place whereby after five years of operation, Wembley National Stadium Ltd would donate 1% of its gross annual takings into an independent charitable grant-making foundation.
The five year ‘grace period’ expired on 9th March 2012, at which point funds started to be paid over by WNSL to the Wembley National Stadium Trust. In pre-pandemic times, these amounted to around £1m per annum. Over the years, WNST has supported a whole host of community sports activities, particularly but not exclusively for young people, encouraging the widest possible participation in football and other sports.
Wembley National Stadium Trust is administered on a day-to-day basis by a small staff team and a board of nine trustees, led by Pete Ackerley.
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