MOSCOW: The saga of the over-cost, out-of-time Zenit Arena in St Petersburg is still far from reaching a conclusion, according to Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Sports Minister.

Mutko, who also heads the national football federation and 2018 World Cup local organising committee, has admitted to further delays in construction which began nine years ago in 2007.

The new home of Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg on Krestovsky Island has suffered multiple delays, cost increases, design changes and allegations of mismanagement. Mutko has said it is still three months behind the latest revised schedule.

Its central role at the World Cup is due to include a semi-final and it is also due to be one of the four venues for the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Mutko,. in local media interviews, has blamed the latest delay on financial concerns involving contractors tasked with completing the job by the end of the year.

Last week Vadim Tyulpanov, head of the Russian Federation Council Committee in charge of World Cup preparations, told TASS that the cost of the Zenit Arena is heading towards $1bn (€892.1m) which would be almost double the original expectation a decade ago.

He said: “Financial expenditures are increasing, clearly because of the rising dollar rate, and that is creating additional expenses. But when the stadium is finished, it’s going to be the best in Russia. The stadium used to cost about a billion US dollars but the price must have gone much higher by now.”

Tyulpanov said the problems have been exacerbated by the stadium’s complicated design, which features both a retractable roof and pitch. He added: “It is the only stadium at the northern geographic level to have a retractable pitch and a sliding roof. That creates additional complications.”