New Zealand Knights chairman Anthony Lee has conceded that Football Federation Australia (FFA) is calling some of the shots at the ailing A-League club.
Chief executive Steve O'Hara was shown the door on Monday, blaming interference from FFA, which has injected a reported $A600,000 to prop up the inaugural season's wooden spooners.
Lee said on radio on Tuesday he was "definitely not pleased to see" O'Hara go.
"Steve's done a great job for us over a difficult period of time and I was disappointed," he said.
"He felt he couldn't carry on with the way things were put to him, and that he needed to go.
"What they (the FFA) want is what everybody would like, which is certainly not to have a repeat of last season.
"In his time, Steve has turned a lot of things around to get a lot of very good people in place, and there are some massive changes since last season."
O'Hara said the FFA wanted him out after the Knights recorded just one win from 21 matches to comfortably finish last.
His dumping, after just seven months in the job, follows the resignation of manager John Adshead last month while board member Chris Turner also quit the club, citing the growing influence of the FFA.
Lee admitted that the FFA's investment, the amount of which was confidential, brought with it a greater degree of control from the league bosses.
He agreed that FFA pressure was behind O'Hara's axing and said "I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with it.
"But I think it is fair comment, so much as obviously the FFA are assisting us financially.
"It's the old story - whoever pays the piper gets to call the tune."
Lee denied the FFA was running the club, but it was recommending what changes needed to be made.
Lee said no conditions were attached to the FFA's cash injection, and he denied that Adshead's resignation was forced by the national body.
With the A League operating under a licence system, as opposed to the English premier league which was club-owned, Lee said the FFA would always have some input into a club's operations.
"We knew very well after last season that we couldn't carry on," Lee said.
"Things that have transpired would be things that any club in our position would have looked at anyway."
The A-League's second season kicks off in September.