Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa looks set to be re-elected unopposed as President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after the man expected to be his closest rival, Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, withdrew and pledged his support to the Bahraini.
insidethegames had been the first to report the official from the United Arab Emirates was on the verge of pulling out on Sunday (March 17) after he withdrew funding for his bid following the decision by the 12 members of the ASEAN Football Federation, including Australia, to publicly back Sheikh Salman.
It took, Sheikh Salman claimed, the number of AFC countries backing him to 40 out of a possible 47.
The decision was officially confirmed after a visit to Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Salman.
It represents a remarkable turnaround in position by Al Romaithi, who, when he launched his bid at a high-profile ceremony in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, claimed that under Sheikh Salman the "AFC stands under a dark cloud, one shrouded in politics and poor governance".
That, however, appears to have now been forgotten.
"I would like to thank Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa for his initiative and his visit to the UAE and would like to stress that when I decided to run for the Presidency it wasn't because I was aiming for the position itself," Al Romaithi said in a statement.
"The main reason was to put Asian football where it deserves to be: among the other continents through a programme that reflects my vision on how to develop the game in the biggest continent in the world.
"I was happy that Sheikh Salman wants to take advantage of this programme and aim to achieve it.
"Therefore, I will spare no effort in supporting him in order to reach this goal."
Qatar's Saoud Al Mohannadi, also due to stand in the election in Kuala Lumpur on April 6, is expected to announce his withdrawal shortly.
"I would like to thank his excellency Mohamad Khalfan Al Romaithi for his hospitality and the good spirit he has shown towards us in order to complete this meeting despite the competition between us, which has been for the good of Asian football," Sheikh Salman said.
"I would like to thank him for his support and for his ambitious election programme, which is an important worksheet from which we can develop Asian football and we will definitely work towards implementing this programme."
Sheikh Salman was elected AFC President in 2013 at the AFC Extraordinary Congress.
He had taken over from Acting President Zhang Jilong of China after Qatari Mohammed bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA.