In the eyes of their critics, Manchester City could never win their appeal against an unfair European ban.

It was always going to be the case that if the ban was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the view of their entrenched opponents would be that the villains had been brought to book, the cheats confounded – a victory for morality and justice.

And if they won – as they have – it would not be because they were in the right.

It would HAVE to be because they have deep pockets to pay the best lawyers, that they had corrupted the process in some way, that they were again flexing their financial muscle to get themselves out of trouble.

Or that they had slithered out of it, on a technicality.

As far as the snipers were concerned, it could never, ever be the case that City were simply right all along. That the hacked emails on which Uefa has based their case WERE taken out of context.

And that Uefa is not the holy, impartial body which, hilariously, some have chosen to portray it as.

Man City UEFA ban overturned

The fact is that Uefa is, and always has been, subject to the influence of the biggest clubs, despite its attempts at impartiality.

That influence can be seen in the evolution of financial fair play from being a virtuous attempt to stop clubs piling up debt and getting themselves into trouble into a blatant attempt to stop nouveau riche clubs from joining the cartel of powerful clubs who want to hog all the money, and the success, for themselves.

Already we have seen people clinging to the fact that City’s exoneration was not complete.

The fact that they were fined ten million euros for failing to cooperate with the Uefa investigation is being widely cited as proof of their guilt.

Except it isn’t.

Uefa made it plain during their initial investigation that they were unhappy with the level of cooperation from City, who had said all along that the Football Leaks emails had been taken out of context.

That argument was ignored by the club’s critics, without question.

But the three independent judges appointed by CAS found that there was insufficient evidence against City.

Uefa were demanding documents which they felt City were withholding, while the Blues were maintaining that they had given over everything they had, and Uefa were demanding evidence that simply did not exist.

The verdict means City's Champions League adventures will continue next season
The verdict means City's Champions League adventures will continue next season

The fact that City were found guilty of not fully cooperating, and handed a considerable fine, means that Uefa must have had some validity, but the details of that will be revealed in the coming days.

But the fact that people within Uefa were leaking like a sieve throughout the process, was, perhaps, proof of City’s claim that the whole process was a clear attempt to discredit the club.

There were people within Uefa driving this, and big clubs were pushing hard for the body to pursue the claims made by the Football Leaks people.

Uefa, under severe pressure, felt they had to be seen to act, and hastily threw together a case to squeeze it within the five-year deadline for action on breaches. It was almost indecent.

City complained both to Uefa, and to CAS, that the leaks springing out of Uefa were prejudicial to the case.

The first hint that Uefa’s case might be in trouble came earlier this year, when City went to CAS to try to get the case quashed.

CAS dismissed that appeal, but expressed its concern that Uefa were allowing its process to be leaked to selected media.

The real reason behind the keenness for City to be pursued was highlighted when a group of Premier League clubs got together to send a letter to CAS, backing Uefa and saying they would strongly object to City being allowed into Europe next season.

On the face of it, that might be seen as clubs expressing their disquiet at City’s alleged wrongdoing.

But the fact it was eight of the top ten clubs – the exceptions being City themselves and Sheffield United – who were seekers after truth and justice, betrays the reality.

They wanted City out of Europe because it would increase their chances of qualifying. It was naked self-interest, a self-interest which warped FFP out of shape in the first place and which was the driving force behind City’s prosecution.

The critics also claim that the verdict means an end to FFP. Which is utter tosh.

What it does is place pressure on Uefa to reform FFP, and make it fit for purpose.

If it truly is aimed at stopping clubs from getting over their heads in debt, then include a ceiling on debt being stacked against clubs – but that means the traditional elite like Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid coming under scrutiny, so it won’t happen.

When you see Arsene Wenger, the arch-critic of “financial doping”, saying that FFP is not fit for purpose, and is maintaining a clique of top clubs, you know that something is wrong.

Some say City’s win opens up the field for clubs with rich owners to circumvent the rules, but it doesn’t do anything of the sort.

Remember, City have actually been punished for breaches which formed part of this case, and have stayed within the FFP limits for years – no-one disputes that.

Today’s verdict is a huge win for City, a vindication of everything they have been saying for the past six years. But it is also a wake-up call to football authorities that they need to tackle FFP’s inequalities and resist the power of the traditional elite.