FA allows Capello to carry on
The timing may have been a surprise but the decision was not.
Having asked England manager Fabio Capello for two weeks to reflect on the disaster in South Africa, the Football Association brought forward its self imposed deadline to Friday afternoon, throwing their support behind the Italian.
Whether Sir David Richards, the chairman of Club England and vice chairman of the FA, ever intended to request such a long period of reflection is uncertain. What was beyond doubt was Capello's anger at being asked to hang on while the FA blazers dithered.
Sensing that they could not waste any time, the FA got to work immediately. Even as the team flew home from South Africa on Monday, arriving back at Heathrow on Tuesday morning, the signs were already looking good for Italian Capello.
By the end of the day, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and influential FA board member, had gone public with his support. Private soundings with other board members revealed there was no great appetite to dismiss Capello.
Even those who had their doubts were only hesitating while they awaited a fuller briefing on what had gone on in South Africa. Over the next couple of days that came, reassuring directors that the 64-year-old Italian was not solely responsible for what went wrong.
On Thursday members of the Club England board - including Richards, managing director Adrian Bevington, Sir Trevor Brooking and FA general secretary Alex Horne - met to discuss Capello's fate.
After the Club England board, which was set up just before the World Cup to run the national team's operation, decided to back the Italian, Horne then rang around the 10 members of the FA board informing them of their view and canvas their opinions.
It quickly became clear that Capello had unanimous support so rather than convene an emergency meeting next week, the FA decided to bring an end to the uncertainty, making their announcement at 1430 BST on Friday.
So why did the FA decide to stick with him?
As I have pointed out in previous postings, money was a major factor. Removing a break clause in Capello's contract (which has two years left to run) meant the FA would have been liable to at least £10m in compensation.
With the FA facing financial concerns over Wembley Stadium, TV rights and sponsorship values, that was a price it was unwilling to pay.
There is still unease among FA directors over the hasty way that break clause was removed and that will undoubtedly put pressure on Richards to quit his role as head of Club England in the weeks ahead.
Roy Hodgson's appointment as Liverpool manager yesterday also flagged up the lack of an English alternative. And surely there would have been no stomach inside the FA for another expensive foreign hire after the Sven-Goran Eriksson and Capello regimes, had they decided to sack him.
And the players have so far shouldered the vast majority of the blame for the failure in South Africa. Capello must now show he is prepared to grasp the nettle and retire the golden generation of ageing Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry and others who have come up short time after time in big tournaments.
A new younger and hungrier breed of players must now be ushered in - players like Joe Hart, Jack Rodwell, Jack Wilshere and Adam Johnson must be given the chance to do for England what young Germany players like Thomas Mueller and Mesut Ozil have done for their country here.
Capello showed he was willing to do so when he said in his statement: "We will look to introduce new players to give the team new energy".
Finally there is understood to have been a feeling among members of the FA board that Capello had not actually done anything to deserve being dismissed. Yes, he made mistakes and he admitted that himself and he has vowed to make amends starting with the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign which starts in September.
He has now been given the chance to do that.
But while many will agree with the FA's decision it knows it will be harshly judged if the England team doesn't make at least the semi-finals at Euro 2012. And more importantly if the FA fails to use South Africa as a catalyst to start addressing the deeper problems in the game.
2330 BST update
An FA source tonight revealed that acting FA chairman Roger Burden insisted directors make the decision on purely football and not financial grounds.
Removing a break clause in Capello's contract - which has two years left to run - meant the FA would have been liable to at least £10m in compensation.
But the source added that even with the break clause the FA could have been liable for a £6m compensation pay-out claim from Capello.
Despite that and Burden's request to focus on football a number of board members were understood to be worried about the financial impact of sacking Capello - especially with the FA facing concerns over Wembley Stadium, TV rights and sponsorship values.