JOHN TERRY was sacked as England captain this afternoon at Wembley after a 12-minute meeting with coach Fabio Capello.
In a statement, Capello said: "After much thought I have made the decision that it will be best for me to take the captaincy away from John Terry.
"As a captain with the team, John Terry has displayed extremely positive behaviour.
"However, I have to take into account other considerations and what is best for all of the England squad.
"What is best for all of the England team has inspired my choice and John Terry was notified first."
Capello went on to say thanks to the FA for "allowing me to make the decision".
This blog suggested Terry was going at noon after receiving an email detailing further allegations to come against the £150,000-a-week Chelsea defender.
Rio Ferdinand - Capello's vice-captain - will be captain for the friendly against Egypt at Wembley on March 3.
Terry's demise was announced at around 3.30pm. I was on Sky News with, amongst others, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, PFA chief Gordon Taylor and the News of the World's Neil Ashton for about half-an-hour by phone discussing the decision.
Ashton, once a Sunday League team-mate of mine with the Warriors in Amersham, said the Terry family will not want to buy the News of the World on Sunday but Perroncel, according to Max Clifford, has now decided not to sell her exclusive story to the papers.
In a nicely worded statement she said her main concern was her three-year-old fathered by Wayne Bridge. Bit late in the day for sentiments like that, I would argue.
When the story of Terry's affair with Perroncel broke on Saturday after his super-injunction was over-turned, there was a groundswell of opinion against the immoral Chelsea leader.
But as the days passed, Ms Perroncel lost some of her allure as she joined forces with arch-publicist Clifford and hawked her story around for £250,000.
The mood changed. Why ruin England's World Cup preparations by getting rid of the captain when the woman involved apparently slept with FIVE Chelsea players (according to The Sun) and has been dabbling with celebrities like the dark-haired bloke out of Steps since her teens?
Suddenly the underwear model was the bad lass, despite a tearful reunion with Wayne Bridge, father of her child and Terry's former Chelsea team-mate. We were ready to write off Terry's affair - which allegedly featured an abortion and a £20,000 payment - as just another footballer going astray with a temptress.
Even his wife Toni, who fled to Dubai with the Terry twins after the story broke, publicly said she would forgive him when he flies over for Valentine's Day, missing Chelsea's FA Cup clash with Cardiff on February 13.
But today the mood changed. And there are several reasons for it, not all of them publishable at this point.
Word reaches me that Terry may indeed have slept with another team-mate's wife at Chelsea. The woman is a model and a mother. Hilarious. Not.
On top of that, Perroncel has apparently slept with "another household name" at Chelsea. The Mirror made that allegation on Wednesday. I have the name. Actually two. One of them is really going to shake things up.
On top of that, also in the top-secret email naming these names, came the allegations over Terry's use of a box at Wembley. Certain claims were made. Now, 24 hours later, if you read this morning's Daily Mail back page, you'll see further details of that. Terry's minders are offering to hire the box out to a third party for around for £4,000, which is "strictly prohibited".
The Daily Mail suggests this is "so much more serious" than his personal problems. I'm not sure I agree with that. The email I've seen also suggests further revelations with more women, coming on top of the eight already listed in most papers so far. I was going to keep the email to myself until the box story emerged this morning. But it looks all too accurate.
Poor old Terry. He must have thought he was slipping out of the noose when Stuart Pearce, Capello's closest English ally and the England Under 21 manager, came out on Tuesday saying Terry should keep the captain's armband (available for £4 at the Wembley shop).
But with further revelations now a promise rather than a threat, Capello - a devout Catholic and a disciplinarian nicknamed "Generalissimo" in Italy - decided to act before Sunday's exclusive hits the streets.
And the new captain? Rio Ferdinand. The Manchester United centre-back has been injured for weeks. And he was banned one game into his comeback.
What worries me now Terry is gone is that his successor will get it in the neck from the tabloids, who will remember his lengthy ban for missing a drugs test three years ago. And ultimately it won't just be Terry and Bridge who suffer. It will be England's long-cherished World Cup dream in South Africa.
Terry was the best man for the job. The only one capable of playing under such intense pressure, as he will have to do again when Chelsea play Arsenal on Sunday. Watch this space.