Salford have been docked six points after being found guilty of breaching the Super League salary cap.
The Red Devils were also fined STG5,000 ($A9,500) by an independent tribunal for breaking the Rugby Football League’s operational rules and salary cap regulations concerning contractual arrangements made with three players in 2014 and 2015.
The tribunal, chaired by Judge Peter Charlesworth found that Salford had committed a serious breach of the rules including exceeding the finite salary limit of STG1.825 million ($A3.43 million) in 2014.
The points deduction will be imposed immediately, which means Salford drop to 11th in the table, above only bottom club Huddersfield on points difference, although Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash said he was considering an appeal.
The tribunal also found Salford not guilty of a number of offences concerning contractual arrangements with two players.
The club have 14 days from the receipt of the written reasons for the decision in which to lodge an appeal.
By a quirky twist of fate, Koukash had tweeted on April 1 that Salford had been docked six points for breaching the cap and pledged to fight the punishment.
The wealthy racehorse owner was in bullish mood as he entered the RFL headquarters at Red Hall, on the outskirts of Leeds, with a three-man legal team, expressing his confidence about the outcome, but he was a downcast figure when he emerged six hours later.
“The tribunal have made a decision which we disagree with,” said lawyer Paul Barrow, of Liverpool-based Quinn Barrow solicitors
“We’re disappointed, six points is ridiculously unfair on a young squad who are trying really hard and have got lots to aim for this season.”
The sanction equals the heaviest handed out to a club since the advent of Super League in 1996.
There have been eight cases of points deductions for salary-cap breaches but this is the first since the 2007 introduction of a “live” cap, which is monitored by a salary cap manager appointed by Super League.
Wigan were docked four points nine years ago after going over the then STG1.6 million ($A3 million) wage ceiling by STG220,000 ($A415,000) the previous season when they were fighting relegation, and Bradford were ordered to forfeit six points after going into administration in 2012.
Since then, the RFL drastically increased the sanctions and now the governing body has the power to deduct up to 20 points and impose restrictions on the ability of a club to register any new players.
Salford, who have finished in the bottom four in all three years since Koukash saved the club from financial ruin, have so far accrued 10 points after winning five of their opening 12 matches but will be bottom of the table if Huddersfield beat Leeds on Friday.