A HUGE cloud has been lifted over Manchester City – and now the sky is the limit.
And it threatened to overshadow everything City have achieved during an incredible decade in the blue half of town.
A second conviction for financial wrong-doing would have thrown the whole club into chaos – from the boardroom to the pitch.
That’s before you start to talk about the £200million financial black hole that two years out of the Champions League would have cost them.
Now though there is the promise of a glittering future to build on the 11 major domestic trophies they have already won.
The verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport – which dropped at 9.30am on Monday morning and it must have felt like a huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
While the noises were positive – and nobody was more hopeful than Pep Guardiola - there was always a nagging doubt over whether they would be vindicated.
And club officials only found out for sure a couple of hours before the verdict was announced to the waiting world.
But their decision to go to war with Uefa – and employ a team of top lawyers to help them – has been vindicated.
Guardiola was always convinced the ban would be overturned – and he was sticking to that belief after the 5-0 win at Brighton on Saturday.
He admitted planning for next season and beyond would start in earnest once the ‘sentence’ was delivered.
How much of that future could Pep be part of now?
He said all along he would see out the final year of his contract at the Etihad and still be in charge next season.
Now though his great friends on the board – chief exec Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain and chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak – will be looking to persuade him to stay longer.
Their superstar players will be relieved too.
Top man Kevin de Bruyne said during lockdown that he would have to consider his future if the two-year ban was upheld.
There would also have been doubts over whether other big names such as Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero would be happy with no European football.
You can expect the new contracts which have been mooted for De Bruyne and Sterling among others can now be stepped up.
And despite the impact of coronavirus on their finances, they can push ahead with plans for a squad rebuild.
If it does turn up to be Pep’s final season, he will be desperate to win back the Premier League title from rivals Liverpool next season.
With Financial Fair Play rules due to be relaxed due to Covid, City will find the money to give him the tools that he needs.
Reinforcements at centre back will be the top priority – with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Nathan Ake of Bournemouth both linked.
But ideally Pep would like to bring in a replacement for Leroy Sane, a new forward and maybe even tweak the full-back positions.
City could go on to add two more trophies to the Carabao Cup they won in March before the season is out.
Yet it may turn out that the victory that was confirmed on July 13 turns out to be the biggest result of their season.