Southampton this afternoon joined Charlton Athletic in League One next season – and all without a ball being kicked.
For after seeking the advice of the forensic accountants, so the Football League Board duly applied its ten-point sanction to those teams that fall into administration and condemned the Saints to start next season in the third tier of English football.
In short, they refused to buy the idea that the football club should be somehow spared because it was Southampton Leisure Holdings Plc – the parent company – and not the Saints themselves that had fallen into administration.
In the eyes of the Board; they were one in the same.
As for the use of the Football League's 'discretionary' powers in the event of a club going into administration after the fourth Thursday in March, they decided to hit Saints with that ten-point fine whenever it hurt them most.
Should Southampton survive this season, then they will get the ten points deducted off their total for this campaign – and send them down.
Should Southampton go down this season anyway, then they will start their new life in League One ten points adrift at the bottom of the table.
As Leeds United discovered to their cost, if it is a long way back for a one-time Premiership club if you're in League One in the first place, it is an even bigger mountain to climb if you start ten points behind everyone else.
Rupert Lowe will not be a popular man on the South Coast this evening; even if he will be the toast of the pubs in Portsmouth as Southampton threaten to disappear off the footballing map – their future, on and off the field, clouded in uncertainty.
The full statement from the Football League read: 'At its meeting today, the Board of The Football League reviewed the report of the independent forensic accountants commissioned by The League to examine the circumstances at Southampton Football Club, together with external legal advice as to the interpretation of The League's regulations.
'The report, by Grant Thornton, set out in detail the various inter-relationships between the four different group companies at Southampton Leisure Holdings Plc (the Holding Company).
'The conclusions were based both on the content of the annual accounts published by the Holding Company, which include the Club, and other information made available to Grant Thornton as part of their enquiries.
'The Board noted that Grant Thornton reported that toward the end of their enquiries co-operation with them was withdrawn.
'The report concluded, among other things, that:
'1. The Holding Company has no income of its own; all revenue and expenditure is derived from the operation of Southampton Football Club Limited (SFC) and the associated stadium company.
'2. The Holding company is solvent in its own right. It only becomes insolvent when account is taken of the position of SFC and the other group companies.
'3. The three entities (the Holding Company, SFC and the stadium company) comprise the football club and they are inextricably linked as one economic entity.
'In light of all this advice, the Board concluded that an administrator had been appointed in respect of the Club or part of its undertaking or assets.
'Accordingly, it was left with no alternative other than to invoke its 'Sporting Sanctions' regulations and apply a 10 point penalty to the Club. The other provisions of The League's insolvency policy also become effective.
'As the insolvency event occurred after The Football League's deadline of the fourth Thursday in March, the points deduction will take effect either:
'1. In the current season, if Southampton avoid relegation to League 1; or
'2. Next season, if the club does not avoid relegation.'
Tonight and the local evening paper, The Echo, claimed it 'understood' that the club will launch an appeal against the decision.
If true, that could make for a very messy summer; particularly if the club manage to wriggle free from relegation and, therefore, insist that they remain a Championship club.
The prospect of Southampton succeeding look, however, slim as you strongly suspect that the 'football family' will close ranks and quietly insist that Southampton take their punishment and go down quietly; no-one will be in a mood to have a summer in which a big question marks hangs over which division they are in – and all the complications that would bring with regard to fixture lists, player transfers and the works.
Likewise, the chairmen, owners and directors of Leeds United, Luton Town, Bournemouth et al will take a very dim opinion if justice were not to be served on the Saints.
In fact, they would be the first to reach for the lawyers and launch a counter-claim if Southampton weren't fed to the wolves.
The interesting bit for Canary fans will come on the final day of the season when Saints face Nottingham Forest in a potentially crucial relegation decider. Down whether they win or lose, will Southampton put up any sort of a fight against one of City's prime relegation rivals – or will they have already consigned themselves to a life down below?
Hopefully the prospect of an appeal might keep Saints fighting till the end; it wouldn't do Norwich's cause any good at all if they all but handed Forest three points on that showdown Sunday.