Bradford Bulls have been deducted six points for going into administration.
The Rugby Football League's board of directors imposed the punishment after the ailing Super League club breached the game's insolvency regulations.
A statement said: "The RFL board of directors has today ruled that Bradford Bulls will be deducted six points - the equivalent of three competition wins - as a penalty for entering into administration during the 2012 Stobart Super League season."
The deduction takes immediate effect and drops the Bulls out of the play-off positions, from seventh to ninth, ahead of Sunday's trip to Warrington, with Huddersfield and Hull KR moving above them in the table.
Bradford, who have won three of their last four matches to raise hopes of reaching the play-offs for the first time in four years, were bracing themselves for the points deduction after entering administration on June 26.
Both Wakefield and Crusaders were docked four points when they entered administration on the eve of the 2011 season after the RFL directors took into account the new owners' willingness to pay off some of the debts to creditors.
Although Bradford's joint administrator Brendan Guilfoyle has found a potential buyer, any deal is some way off being completed.
Guilfoyle yesterday passed on details of a formal, written offer from the ABC consortium, a group of local Asian businessmen, to the RFL but it is conditional on them being able to buy back the lease to Odsal Stadium and receiving a guarantee on the Bulls remaining in Super League.
He has until this Friday to avoid putting the club into liquidation, although he has the option of a further extension of the deadline if he feels he can complete a deal.