ON the back of Worcester City announcing a loss of more than £290,000 for the financial year up to May 31, 2017, the Worcester News spoke to vice-chairman Colin Layland.

Chairman Anthony Hampson has since confirmed City increased by £65,000 its spend on player wages and expenses in the year in question compared with 2015-16 when the costs were reported as £275,660.

WN: The figures show losses of more than £290,000 for the financial year up to May 2017. Why did the club’s losses grow from a little more than £155,000 the previous year?

CL: “It hasn’t helped us playing away from Worcester paying another club while trying to compete in National League North.

“The playing budget and overall expenses would have been higher at that level.”

Was the playing budget the club’s biggest expense?

CL: “Yes, it was.”

Who decided what the playing budget would be?

CL: “The board decided that.”

Did anyone specifically take control over that decision?

CL: “No, it was a board decision after consulting with the manager.” (At the time, Carl Heeley).

Was the manager involved in that decision as a director or was it reached after he had resigned from the board in July 2016?

CL: “I would say it was after he resigned.”

Did Carl Heeley have any influence over the playing budget other than the normal input any manager would have?

CL: “No.”

How much was being spent on players contracted from the season before?

CL: “I could not answer that without having the paperwork in front of me.”

Why was the playing budget not brought under greater control given the fact the club knew it would need to finance a new stadium?

CL: “A lot of the players were under contract anyway so there was not a lot we could do about that. I cannot say which ones but some were on deals that lasted more than one season.

“We started to cut it as quickly as we could. We took that decision to cut it drastically and play within our means.”

When did the club start making the cutbacks?

CL: “It happened way before we came down from where we were (National North). We were reducing the budget before that.”

The playing budget and expenses increased to £287,408 in 2015-16 from £275,660 the season before. When did the process start with regard to cutting back?

CL: “At the start of the last season in National North.”

The club’s financial statement reports staff costs of £8,983 paid to football secretary Joe Murphy, who was also a director. Has the club always offered a salary to its football secretary?

CL: “That has always happened.”

Is the football secretary (Kevin Preece) paid now?

CL: “Yes, he has taken a reduced wage to what it was and does a dual role. He does the other role as safety officer for free.”

The report says the club “has sustained losses on its operations during the year under review and further losses are expected to be incurred in future years”.

With the club’s reserves as they are now and with the need to finance a new stadium, how long can the club continue to survive? Fans are understandably concerned the club could go to the wall.

CL: “I disagree. I don’t think the club will go to the wall. The club will continue at whatever level, it won’t go to the wall.”

What makes you confident about that, given the rate of loss?

CL: “We are planning for the future. We have a lot in the pipeline, we cannot put figures on it now but we are talking to people and they are being positive about it, including Worcester City Council. It is not a dead duck.”

The report also says that “directors have taken steps to reduce the losses but nevertheless these factors represent material uncertainties which cast doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a growing concern in the years to come”.

What is being done to overcome these doubts?

CL: “We are trying hard to reduce everything. The longer we are away from Worcester, we will continue to make losses.

“We cannot get sponsorship. People will not sponsor us while we are playing elsewhere. Once we are back in the city, it could be a completely different story. It is so difficult.”

How is the Parsonage Way stadium project going to be funded given the club’s current financial position?

CL: “We are seriously looking at grants, not just talking to the Worcestershire FA but the national FA. There is money out there to fund it but it will be a long process, it will not happen overnight.”

What would you to say those who question whether a club making such losses, much of which has been paid to players, deserves access to grants?

CL: “We haven’t got any players on these kind of contracts now, getting the silly money they were years ago.

“When we were at St George’s Lane this didn’t change. We owed the bank more than £1million, the club was never ever making money, it was always losing season after season.

“The only way you are going to make money is by getting people through the gate. It is no good saying ‘I am not going to support them’ because of this, that or the other, we need these people.

“This is nothing new, it has been going on for the past 50 or 60 years.”

Knowing the club did not have its own ground, knowing it had overheads and knowing it had lost more than £150,000 in the previous year, why did the board not take the decision to reduce the budget far earlier to protect the club’s funds?

CL: “That is difficult to answer. What did people want? A competitive football team or a side that lost week in, week out? Unless you get people through the gate, you are going to be on to a loser.”

What would you say to people who think the club should not have a playing budget at all given the circumstances?

CL: “You could ask one supporter who would want to see it cut to zero and end up at whatever level, another might say you have to keep some sort of playing budget to give you a decent chance of being competitive.

“People would not come to watch Worcester City lose week in, week out. They want to see some sort of game. It is difficult.”

Layland spoke last Thursday prior to the Worcester News reaching chairman Anthony Hampson.

Mark Wilcox and Martin Pinches, current directors who were also on City's board at the time, were unavailable for comment on Thursday.