All three clubs deducted Super League points for breaching last season's salary cap have failed in their appeals against the punishment, but could refuse to accept that is the end of the matter.
St Helens, Hull and Halifax all went to appeal after being docked two points for exceeding their permitted spending on players and had their cases heard on Monday by an independent advisory panel headed by Judge James Spencer QC.
But the trio were told yesterday that they had been unsuccessful and may now seek other forms of redress.
"We are flabbergasted at this outcome," said the Saints' chairman, Eamonn McManus. "We feel even more stronger that we were never in breach of the rules as they are written." McManus, who recently announced an operating loss of £800,000 for the last, Super League-winning season, said the club was "highly disturbed by flagrant procedural deficiencies and abuses we have encountered." Saints would be discussing its next step with Hull and Halifax, he said.
Those two clubs have had less to say, but Hull confirmed that they are weighing their alternatives, including recourse to the courts or to arbitration.
Halifax, whose two lost points are the only ones they have won this season, were keeping their own counsel until today, but it appears likely that none of the three will accept that their fight is over.
The Leeds' forward David Furner has agreed to stay with the club for another season. The 32-year-old Australian has been a major influence this year since arriving from Wigan. Liam Botham, who has been released after trials at Bradford, could join Leeds on a dual-code contract.
Danny Halliwell has asked for a release from his contract at Halifax, where he has been out of action since May with a dislocated thumb. Ryan MacDonald will be out for the rest of the season at Widnes after breaking his thumb - an injury that comes after a broken foot and two fractured arms in the last 18 months.
The Leigh centre Phil Kendrick has been suspended for two matches after being sent off for using a forearm on Gavin Clinch during the Arriva Trains Cup final defeat by Salford.
* Matt Sing scored three tries as Queensland equalled their biggest State of Origin victory by beating New South Wales 36-6 in Brisbane. New South Wales won the series 2-1. Queensland, determined to avoid a whitewash, went into an early 16-point lead, with Sing making a strong bid for a tour place to Britain later this year.
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