The general manager of Boston United has walked free from court after he was acquitted of tax fraud.
John Blackwell, 59, was accused of conspiring to disguise wages and bonuses as expenses to save money and "prop up" the Lincolnshire side.
Following legal arguments at London's Southwark Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Goymer decided Mr Blackwell had no case to answer.
He is known as "Mr Boston" because of his 30-year association with the club.
The judge directed jurors to formally return a not guilty verdict.
Mr Blackwell, of Fishtoft, Lincolnshire, smiled and then left court after shaking hands with his barrister.
He said: "My nightmare and that of my family has been brought to an end."
The trial continues against former club accountant Ian Lee, 57, of Sleaford Road, Boston, and Brian James, of Bennington, Lincolnshire, who looked after the club payroll for a while and served as a director.
They deny one count of conspiring to cheat the public revenue between April 1997 and June 2002.
Club manager Steve Evans, 43, of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and its one-time chairman, Patrick Malkinson, 64, of Spilsby Road, Boston have already pleaded guilty to the same charge.
They will be sentenced at the end of the trial.