FORMER chairman Anthony Hampson believes Worcester City was “pushed aside” during his personal bid to buy Claines Lane in January 2017.

Hampson formally tabled £120,000 for the site currently owned by Worcestershire County Council but operated by Worcestershire FA, the county association which released plans to purchase and redevelop the site last month.

E-mail correspondence seen by Worcester News indicates then-Worcester City Council managing director Sheena Ramsey told Hampson the land had been valued at £120,000 in September 2016.

Four months later an offer meeting that estimate was rejected by Janette Becket, the county council’s strategic property manager, due to it being “significantly below the valuation recently carried out by our property advisers”.

Hampson indicated he would be prepared to make a higher offer but claims he did not receive a response.

The former City chief, the subject of vehement criticism from supporters until his resignation from the board in August, said the plan had been for him to offer the homeless club a “long lease” at what he saw as a hub for its training and youth operations.

Hampson understood the county FA’s lease was set to expire in May 2017 and that City would be offered “a clear run” at purchasing the site but now feels “our guns were spiked” despite having held talks with landlords and tenants.

“I was going to buy it and give the football club a long lease so it could use a facility that would have been very beneficial,” said Hampson.

“For some reason the rug got pulled from under me. My offer was turned down, they said it was not enough so I asked how much they wanted but never got an answer back.

“That was it, the club was pushed aside.

“It was very disappointing. Personally, I spent quite a bit of time on it together with everything else.

“We had meetings with the city council and the Worcestershire FA over this piece of land. It was not smoke and mirrors, they knew the club wanted to use that facility.

“We knew floodlighting was going to be a major issue and I think that was used as an excuse for us not going there.”

Worcestershire FA plans to install floodlights, a 3G pitch and new changing and office facilities provided it secures planning permission and the ability to buy the site.

“I understood it to be an unencumbered piece of land and the Worcestershire FA knew we were making an offer,” said Hampson.

“It seems now that they are having a sweetheart arrangement on the land and relying on the sale of their offices in Hampton Lovett which could take forever whereas we were there to offer the money.

“I would like to see the detail of them having the right to secure it. What are the terms?

“It is county council-owned land and should be offered to anyone prepared to come up with the funds to buy it. I don’t know what the detail is but it sounds a bit woolly to me.”

Asked about Worcestershire FA’s response to the bid, Hampson replied: “They basically said they would give Worcester City a clear run at the site.

“The recent article said that it was some years ago. Well it was not, it was some months ago.

“We spent some time as a board looking at Claines Lane as a suitable training venue, particularly as the focus had to be on the youth section that will power the club forward.”

Worcestershire FA chief executive Nichola Trigg acknowledged she had known about City’s bid but insisted: “Worcestershire FA did not pursue options on this site with the county council until Worcester City had indicated they were not prepared to increase their proposal.

“We had an obligation to secure the site for football long term because at that point we only had a year-by-year arrangement.

“We were asked to submit proposals for the council to consider which was what we did. Following that the option to purchase was made available.

“The purchase of the site is not dependent on the sale of Craftsman House (current headquarters). The funds are secured.”

On the city council’s involvement in valuing the site, Trigg said: “We had no conversation with the city council about the valuation. Sheena Ramsey and I never had a conversation.”

A spokesperson for Worcester City Council said: “At the time of these exchanges, Worcester City Council was involved in a confidential working party with representatives of Worcester City Football Club.”

The spokesperson said Worcester City Council would not comment on Ramsey’s apparent valuation or be offering anyone for interview on the matter.

Janette Becket declined to field questions and referred Worcester News to Worcestershire County Council’s press department.

A statement from a spokesperson read: "The Worcestershire FA are the tenants but don't have the right to purchase under their tenancy agreement but have offered to purchase the site which the council have agreed the terms subject to conditions.

"The council has received a previous offer for the site which has been considered but as it did not reflect best value was not accepted."

Sheena Ramsey was unavailable for comment.