Wembley Stadium History

FA Cup Final: Manchester United v Chelsea Wembley StadiumThe Final of the FA Cup has been played at Wembley Stadium 73 times since the Cup Finals first moved to the old Empire Stadium at Wembley in 1923. Recognised as the home of English football, the “hallowed turf” was also the scene of England’s famous Football World Cup final triumph over West Germany in 1966.

Despite having a reputation as the home of football, Wembley Stadium was not specifically intended for use as a football stadium. Instead, the stadium was built as the centrepiece of the 1924 Empire Exhibition.

The Empire Stadium was constructed in only 300 days, under the able supervision of architects Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayerton. Work was completed only 4 days before the 1923 FA Cup Final, and the growing enthusiasm for football as well as public fascination with the new stadium ensured a record attendance.

The Empire Stadium was officially opened on the 23 April, 1924 by King George V. By the time the Empire Exhibition closed its doors for the final time in October 1925, approximately 4,500,000 people had been admitted to the stadium.

Over the next several decades, the Wembley Stadium played host to a succession of memorable football events. Aside from the annual FA Cup Final, it hosted the Football World Cup Final, five European Cup Finals and the Euro 96 Final. Other major sports events held at the stadium included the 1984 Summer Olympics and the annual Rugby League Challenge Cup.

Although the Wembley stadium was upgraded several times during its service, with floodlights added in 1955 and an aluminium roof added in 1963, it soon became apparent that the venue was not equipped to deal with the constant capacity crowds and the demands of modern sport. In 2003, the old Wembley Stadium was demolished and work on the new £798 million stadium began.

In 2007, the keys of the new Wembley Stadium were handed to the Football Association – a year behind schedule. Described by Franz Beckenbauer as the greatest stadium in Europe, the venue has the second largest seating capacity in Europe, at 90,000 seats.

The most striking feature of the new stadium is the 133 metre high arch that towers over the North stand. The single largest roof structure in the world, the Wembley arch supports the north roof and 60% of the weight of the south roof. The arch is visible right across London.