Salford have lost their appeal against a six-point deduction for breaking the Super League salary cap.
The independent body Sport Resolutions upheld the decision by an independent Rugby Football League tribunal in April that found the Red Devils guilty of breaching the STG1.83 million ($A3.14 million) salary cap in the 2014-15 season.
The tribunal also upheld a STG5000 fine after finding Salford guilty of seeking to avoid declaring payments made to former St Helens forward Tony Puletua by entering into a contract with him via another company associated with the club.
It also found the club guilty of not declaring benefits to two other players, Lami Tasi and Theo Fages.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Salford owner Marwan Koukash, who personally presented his club’s case, after the appeal verdict was announced on Thursday.
“At the end of the day, although we demonstrated that we haven’t broken the salary cap and in many ways the RFL has accepted that, the centre point is that I broke the operational rules, which is not declaring three payments back in 2013, to which I hold my hand up.”
An RFL spokesman said: “The decision today from Sport Resolutions clearly shows that the RFL disciplinary process is robust and fair.
“It is of utmost importance that clubs adhere to the salary cap and that if they are found to have broken it they are held to account.”
The outcome leaves Salford entrenched in the bottom four and will come as a relief to Widnes, Wakefield and Castleford just above them who would have been dragged into a relegation battle had the Red Devils regained their six points.
Salford need to win all three remaining games before the split, starting with their visit to Warrington on Thursday (Friday AEST), to retain their slender hopes of climbing into the top eight.
Koukash says his fight to prove his club’s innocence will go on.
“OK, we didn’t declare the payments but it doesn’t justify the six-point deduction,” Koukash told Press Association Sport.
“Once the decision of the original tribunal was made, it was very hard to turn it around.
“But it is very important for everyone to know that we did not breach the salary cap and the RFL maintained and produced a salary cap log – that I will produce in due course – that contains damning evidence of their inability to properly police the cap.
“I don’t know what else can be done. I’m going to leave it at that for now until we get the written document. I will run it past a QC.”