Hartlepool's battle for League One survival will go down to the final day of the season after the club were deducted three points with immediate effect for fielding an ineligible player.
Gary Liddle played in April's 2-0 victory over Brighton when he should have been serving a suspension for picking up 10 bookings.
A Football Disciplinary Commission imposed the points deduction along with a suspended fine of £10,000 that will come into force if the offence is repeated in the next 12 months.
The club, who have also been ordered to pay the costs of the commission, have 28 days to lodge an appeal and are currently considering their position. The deduction leaves Pools one point above the relegation zone ahead of Saturday's trip to Brentford.
Chris Turner's men have also been handed a £3,500 fine by the Football Association, while Liddle must serve an additional one-match ban, which will begin in 14 days.