Hartlepool have been 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.
Chris Turner's side are now back in the League One relegation scrap, with their penalty taking them from a position of safety four points above the drop zone to just one point away from the bottom four.
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.
UnhappyHartlepool have hit out at the punishments imposed on them by the FA and Football League.
A statement on the club's official website read: "The club and its owners, while fully recognising that we play under two sets of Rules (FA and FL), are amazed that the club and the player have been tried and punished for the same offence on two different occasions - something that does not even happen under English Law.
"This is the club's first offence of this kind. Other recent offences for clubs fielding ineligible players have not had such severe punishments and it appears clubs playing under just one set of rules - as in the Premier League under the FA - only get punished once for an offence.
"The club strongly suggests that the Football League and Football Association need to review the rules for punishments of all nature and ensure that a double punishment to any club for any offence is prevented in the future.
"The club and its owners are currently considering its position and are aware that the club have up to 28 days in which to lodge an appeal to the Football League with regards to the points deduction."
Pools still have their fate in their own hands ahead of Saturday's trip to Brentford in the final game of the season.
But they could end up playing League Two football next term if they are beaten at Griffin Park and other results go against them.
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.