David Howell admitted the “goalposts” at the club had changed after being sacked as St Albans City manager last night.

The former Harrow Borough boss was brought in to guide the Saints to promotion from the Southern Premier Division but this changed after their early FA Cup exit last month.

The club wanted to cut the budget by two thirds and only the negotiating of former chairman Ian Ridley managed to limit this to one third.

But the club’s owners told Howell promotion was no longer the aim and staying in the division was the objective.

Howell said: “The goalposts moved because they weren’t interested in promotion.

“It became clear after losing to Lowestoft in the FA Cup that there were problems. They budgeted for an FA Cup run which didn’t materialise and they panicked a bit.”

Along with Howell, assistant manager Ken Charlery, physio Samantha Backhouse and reserve coaches Stuart Crawford and Eddie Lester. Youth team secretary Simon Wroe also quit the club earlier this month.

Youth coach Graham Golds and James Gray could take charge of the game at Bashley this weekend.

But there are strong claims linking the Potters Bar management team of Adam Lee and Harry Wheeler with the vacant role at Clarence Park.

The departure of Ridley last week was a major blow for Howell after the pair forged an excellent working relationship at the club.

Howell admitted the exit of the chairman was a strong indicator that his time at the club would be shortlived.

Howell said: “Once he went I did feel that there was an atmosphere of inevitability about the whole thing.”

But Howell insists he has no regrets about his decision to leave Harrow Borough and join St Albans 18 months ago.

He said: “The only regret I have is that they didn’t give me the chance to show that this squad can win promotion.

“I regret that I wasn’t given the time to do this.”

The former boss also had a warning for the club’s future.

Howell added: “If you take things for granted and stand still there is only one way they are going to go. The only people that will suffer will be the supporters.

“I think they’ll be happy if some of the players walk out because they won’t have to pay them. But I do fear for their future if this happens.”

The Saints’ form under Howell dipped over the last two months but the club were still only one point and one place off the play-offs.

His last match in charge came in the 2-0 home defeat at the weekend to Chippenham Town.

But Howell was adamant his sacking had nothing to do with their recent struggles on the pitch.

“It was just a way of making further cuts,” he said.

“That’s really the bottom line because the budget will drop further now that we have gone.”

But interim chairman Nick Archer, who expects to appoint a new manager within the next week, said: “The decision was based entirely on results on the pitch.

“We budgeted for attendances of about 500 and hoped to go further in the FA Cup.

“But our results have been such that attendances have dropped and we’ve had to review the sustainability of the club.”