By Duncan Mackay

Luzhniki Stadium with trackDecember 25 - Controversial plans to demolish Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium and rebuild it in time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup have been scrapped in favour of renovating it, the city's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has revealed.

The Luzhniki, which hosted the 1980 Olympics, is due to stage the final of the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko had raised the prospect of it being knocked down next year and a new stadium being built on the same site.

But Sobyanin has ruled out this possibility and instead promised that extensive renovations will begin after the Stadium has hosted the International Associaton of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships next August.

"Luzhniki is a sacred place," he said on Russian televison.

"The Stadium will remain in its current location.

"Of course, it requires serious reconstruction, but we won't be changing site."

Luzhniki Stadium facadeThe facade of the Luzhniki Stadium, a classic example of Soviet architecture, is set to be preserved while the inside will be modernised in time for the 2018 World Cup

Moscow officials are now expected to begin investigating a scheme that would see the facade of the Stadium remaining while it is completely modernised inside.

The 80,000-capacity arena, built in 1956 and refurbished for the 1980 Summer Olympics, where Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett staged their classic duels, is due to host the opening match and one of the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, as well as the final.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
December 2012: Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow confirmed as host for 2018 FIFA World Cup final
November 2012: New debate over future of 1980 Moscow Olympic Stadium after calls for it to be knocked down and rebuilt
August 2011: Moscow 1980 Olympic Stadium set to escape demolition