IN an ideal world, the Football Association would have done one of two things last night.

It would either have given Sven Goran Eriksson its unequivocal backing, arguing that he was the best man to take England into the next World Cup and that his private life had absolutely nothing to do with how he managed a football team, or it would have terminated his contract forthwith.

In the end, and with the same grim inevitability that has accompanied every twist and turn of this sorry saga, it did neither.

The 12 FA board members who sat in judgement on Eriksson have issued the kind of loosely-worded, wishy-washy statement that helped get them into this mess in the first place.

"In the case of Sven Goran Eriksson," read the official FA statement. "The board decided on the basis of the report and on legal advice that there is no case for him to answer."

A sentence that purports to say everything, but ultimately says nothing at all.

It says nothing of Eriksson's dalliance with FA employee Faria Alam and the revelations that have subsequently shook Soho Square.

It fails to mention the allegations that Eriksson lied to his employers when news first broke of his affair.

And it steers clear of making any comment on the Swede's capability as a football manager or his suitability to continue in charge of the national side given their failings at both the World Cup and the European Championships.

Instead, it effectively says that Eriksson has been let off the hook because the FA has been unable to make anything stick.

"We'd like to get rid of you Sven, but for £14m we don't really think it's worth our while."

Throughout this saga the FA has displayed an ostrich-like capacity for burying its collective head in the sand so, when the situation was crying out for some moral fibre and assertive action, it should not be surprising that the governing body was found wanting again.

The FA is confident that last night's events will draw a line under one of the blackest fortnights in its history.

Little has been clear cut in this whole episode, but one thing is certain - it will not.

Not content with sleeping with Eriksson and former chief executive Mark Palios, Alam has now jumped into bed with PR guru Max Clifford.

If the FA thought things were bad over the last two weeks, they should wait to see what happens once Clifford oils the wheels of the gutter press. What are the odds on Sunday's front pages containing the headline "Sven was sensational then said Rooney was rubbish" or "Sven said he wasn't used to clean sheets because he had to put up with David James"?

One can only imagine what Eriksson has let slip during the throes of passion - given his propensity for putting his foot in it, it is safe to assume that there is plenty of mileage in this tale yet.

Every England game will be overshadowed by fresh revelations regarding Eriksson's love life, and the only way to prevent an endless stream of stories and scandal is to categorically state that what the England boss gets up to in his own time is entirely his business.

That would allow Eriksson to legitimately claim that his actions were not worthy of discussion, but the FA are running scared from taking the kind of stance that would not go down well with the moralising minority.

Of course the FA board members have their own jobs to protect, and that is unquestionably part of the problem.

A truly independent enquiry would have uncovered archaic management practices that infect English football's governing body from top to bottom.

From the very start this scandal wasn't so much about the bedroom antics of two unmarried men as the desperate dealing of a group of highly-paid bureaucrats desperate to cover their own backs.

Generally, an accused is judged by 12 wise men.

Yesterday, Eriksson's future was discussed by a dirty dozen more concerned with maintaining their own privileged position than debating the stringent reforms needed to ensure nothing like this happens again.

So, after a fortnight of seedy scandal and risqu revelations, nothing much has changed.

Geoff Thompson is still chairman of a Football Association unable or unwilling to control the actions of its own members, and Eriksson is still in charge of an England side as far away from a major trophy as ever.

And, in a few weeks time, we will no doubt be going through all of this again.