CHAIRMAN Anthony Hampson claims the failure to agree terms over a report on Worcester City’s finances was instigated by supporters’ trust representatives being unwilling to sign confidentiality clauses.

The row centres around the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that would have allowed the trust’s appointed financial consultant, Nick Igoe of Supporters Direct, to compile a report on the club’s detailed accounts.

Last Thursday, the trust released a statement to say the report it had offered to fund would “not be progressing” due to the club wanting to have the first view and the final call on who would have access to it beyond trust chairman Dave Wood and secretary Rob Crean.

A counter statement on behalf of the club board – understood to have been authored by Mark Wilcox, the director said to have handled the NDA negotiations – said the agreement “did not provide equal terms to both parties”.

It confirmed “the club also requested a copy of the report to be provided under the NDA prior to being formally issued”.

In an interview with Worcester News, Wood argued the club “wanted to take the report before it was issued to us, to be able to review or veto it”.

Hampson says the club’s amended NDA was designed to be “more appropriate and helpful to all parties” and that the club would be happy to “help the trust in their endeavours to secure additional funding for the club if they feel that is the appropriate potential direction”.

“We would not want to stand in the way of providing the information to the trust,” said the City chief. “I spent the whole of Good Friday getting ready the information and documents to pass over.

“I feel they haven’t come back with a middle ground on the NDA but we would still be prepared to provide them with the figures, projections and any information they require to help them to make a proposal to the club which is financially beneficial to both parties.

“The principle issue with the NDA was that it was fairly long winded. We sent back a reduced and more concise NDA but were worried about confidentiality, we have had such problems in the past.

“I was prepared to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of the NDA. Sadly, I don’t think any of their representatives felt they wanted to sign up.

“If you don’t have signatures on a confidentiality agreement it makes it rather worthless. Someone needs to be able to police it. I was prepared to sign up for that, they weren’t."

Wood said the trust would have had no access to the financial information submitted by the club, only sight of the final report containing no figures from Igoe.

Asked whether the issue surrounded the leaking of financial information, the report being made public or both, Hampson replied: “If you are going into commercial situations you need to be able to trust that the parties you are dealing with will treat that information with confidentiality.

“Before you get out of the first box, you need to be signing up to that whether it is information, figures, the process of a planning application or anything else. Somebody would have to take personal responsibility to guarantee confidentiality of that report. That’s the issue.

“We would be quite happy to work with them if we knew they would proceed together with the club.”

Asked whether it was his understanding that only Igoe would have had access to City’s financial records, Hampson replied: “My understanding is that before anything gets released, someone needs to sign a confidentiality agreement to take responsibility.

“Whoever their consultant is, it is a third party working for the trust. I think the request was made for the third party to sign it.

“Perhaps that was not something Supporters Direct wanted to do but we certainly need the trust to sign something that would guarantee confidentiality.”

On the statements released since, Hampson said: “I think it is premature to be critical. There was nothing coming back about the proposals we made with our NDA and it became a question of what was trying to be achieved.

“A lot of the questioning with their NDA was about St George’s Lane and the past. The club needs to move forwards and we would be very happy to work with them if they want to help with that."

Wood said the proposed report had been part of a due diligence process with a view to community ownership.

Asked whether that was his understanding of the situation, Hampson said: “If they want to take over the club, they know what they need to do.

“There is £170,000 worth of unissued shares. They need to consider raising money to allow that to happen and look at the proposal for community ownership that was commissioned through the Anthony Collins report.

“I think Rob Crean had a copy at the time. The conclusion was that we needed to identify a suitable site for a ground first. They are very much aware of that.

“If we need to work something out with them, we can do but it is all very well criticising immediately rather than offering a counter proposal.

“I have been running the club for 10 years and have always tried to accommodate the supporters’ trust. We have had directors on the board over time from the trust, I think we need to work something out together.”