Manchester United have done the right thing. There is no way Mason Greenwood could play for them again.

There is no way it would have been tolerable for their fans. There is no way it would have sent out the right message. There is no way it would not have caused huge and possibly irreparable damage to the club; to the institution; to the sport and to society.

It was a decision that shapes United and, thankfully, they have made the correct call. It was about morals and ethics as well as the law but it also dictates the future direction of the club and what club they want to be.

Yes, Greenwood has not been found guilty of anything in a court of law. In fact if the case had gone to trial and the 21-year-old was either cleared or convicted, United would actually have had a far easier decision to make. The legal system would have decided the course of action and they would have followed.

And while the statements released stress that United, having finally concluded their internal investigations, believe that Greenwood did not “commit the offences” he was originally charged with the player himself acknowledges that he “made mistakes” in his relationship.

Anyone who has heard the 51 seconds of graphic, harrowing audio that was released on social media in Jan 2022 will be furious at that. What an understatement compared to the awful images of a young woman with bruises to her arms and legs, a bleeding lip and an accusation that led to Greenwood’s arrest.

Eighteen months later the case for alleged attempted rape, assault and coercive behaviour was dropped because of the withdrawal of a key witness and diminishing chances of prosecution.

But, surely, the evidence, or enough evidence, is out there. For United it has been a highly sensitive, difficult case. They stand accused of taking far too long in what appeared to many to be an easy decision. Their inquiries, even though there was only a small number of people involved took more than seven months, and they should have ended this a long time ago.

But they believe they have had a very careful line to navigate and, again, in the statements released at 3pm there is a definite conclusion that what was released on social media does not tell the whole story. United have obtained “evidence not in the public domain”. This where it is highly sensitive.

It is that, presumably, and the lack of a conviction, obviously, that led United to even consider trying to reintegrate Greenwood back into their squad. There has been a debate about trial by social media and about the club’s responsibility to someone who joined their academy aged seven and while this is understandable it is also misleading. Clubs do not think twice about cutting young players, no matter how long they have been with them.

United vehemently deny that Greenwood’s value as a player came into consideration and we have to accept that. So maybe they just got themselves too wrapped up in the black and white legalities of Greenwood not actually having been convicted while the phrase ‘care of duty’ has been used several times.

It meant United allowed themselves to be backed into a corner while the revelations that they had ‘scenario planned’ Greenwood’s return, followed by a statement last week that read like they were preparing for exactly that, has left them open to the accusation that they have now simply buckled after the outcry and completed a U-turn.

United maintain no final decision was ever taken. It has been now. United will help Greenwood find a club, he may even go on loan (but not with the view of bringing him back) and the penny has dropped that it is not just in no-one’s interest for him to pull on their jersey again, that it would have been intolerable, but also that him leaving is simply, unequivocally, the right thing to do.