Southampton have been consigned to relegation to Coca-Cola League One after the Football League deducted the south-coast club 10 points.
The governing body launched an investigation into Saints' finances after their holding company, Southampton Leisure Holdings plc, went into administration.
Southampton argued that because the club itself was not in administration, they should avoid the mandatory points penalty, but the League has decided that the club and the holding company are "inextricably linked as one economic entity", and that the 10-point deduction stands.
As the holding company, chaired by ex-club chairman Rupert Lowe, entered administration after the League's March deadline, the points deduction will take effect this season should Southampton avoid relegation.
However, if Saints go down anyway - they are currently four points adrift with two games remaining - then they will begin next season in League One on minus 10 points.
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