WORCESTER City spent a whopping £362,698 on wages and expenses in 2016-17 ­— the final season in National League North that resulted in losses of more than £290,000.

It represents a £58,000 increase from 2015-16, a campaign in which City had haemorrhaged more than £150,000 despite a lucrative run to the FA Cup first round proper.

Chairman Steve Goode, who was not a director at the time, said there had been “no reason to doubt” the accuracy of the figures on the back of a new-look board scrutinising the books.

READ MORE | Current City budget "well below" the 108k spent in 2017-18

At the time accounts for 2016-17 went live, then-chairman Anthony Hampson cited an “out-of-control” playing budget for the losses.

Hampson claimed a flexible budget of between £7,000 and £8,000 per week had been set for that season and that Carl Heeley, a former director of the club who stayed on as manager until January 2017, had been “slow to act” in trimming it as agreed.

READ MORE | Hampson cites "out of control" playing budget for bumper losses (March 2018)

Within two weeks of Heeley standing down, the club announced its aim for a “rationalisation of current operating costs (including the playing budget)”.

In response to Hampson's comments, which were made in March 2018, Heeley declined to comment on whether he had drafted a budget for the company or what he had advised the board he would need to make City competitive in 2016-17.

Heeley did say that “based on a 40-week playing contract it is very simple maths”, making the average spend per week in excess of £9,000 for a campaign that saw a swift fire sale of players to cut costs from January.

READ MORE | Heeley "disappointed and saddened" by budget claims (March 2018)

At that point City sat 18th in National North, five points and two places above the drop zone on the back of 10 league matches without a win.

Goode, who came in as one of four Worcester City Supporters’ Trust-affiliated directors in August 2018, said he could understand anger over what had happened but advocated a focus on the future.

“We got a couple of directors to look at the paperwork and there was no reason to doubt that everything was correct,” said Goode.

“Most of us were shocked, even though we had heard rumours that there had been a big spend. I guess we were just trying to compete.

“In that league you had to pay out money to do that. In hindsight we should have taken relegation and rebuilt at a lower level with cash in the bank.

“The board at that time most probably thought they were doing the right thing, I would not knock them but personally would have started from scratch, put the money away and played at this (City’s current) level of football and built back up.

“I think every director is angry, it is their club and the money is gone. The board at the time must have looked into it and thought that was the way forward.

“I am a bit disappointed myself. I was just a supporter at the time and was led to believe the wages were quite high but not as high as they were. We have stepped in to try to stop the extra spend now, though.

“People run down directors but until you have actually been on the board and realise what has to be done, you cannot really do that.

“I understand the frustration but it is one of those things that is now in the past. Things are looking rosy but we have to be ready for the long, hard drive ahead to get a new ground and everything in place.

“At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel now. I hope people will stay focused on the future, I know the past plays a big part but let’s concentrate on what we are trying to do now.

“The directors that looked at the finances found nothing untoward, if we had we would have reported it.”

Asked who should take responsibility for the spend in 2016-17, Goode replied: “I don’t want to name particular people, that would be unfair because I was not in the meetings when decisions were made.

“If that happened at this club now, I would take responsibility.”

Hampson declined to comment beyond what has already been said but indicated some of the spend would have been made up of contract cancellations from January onwards.

Heeley declined to comment.