Zimbabwe international defender Onisimo Bhasera’s English Championship soccer team Plymouth Argyle have been deducted 10 points with immediate effect after they issued a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.
The notice is classed as an “insolvency event” which breaks Football League sanctions and commands the automatic 10-point penalty.
The League One strugglers have been the subject of three winding-up petitions from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) this season. It leaves Argyle bottom of League One, 10 points from safety.
The “Notice of Intention” gives the club 10 working days to either appoint an administrator or find new investors, with David Hinchliffe from Walker Morris Solicitors appointed in the interim period to work alongside the Home Park club’s consultant to the board Peter Ridsdale.
A statement on Plymouth’s club website: “This action gives the club protection from insolvency action from creditors.
“This does not mean that the club is in administration today nor does it assume that it will necessarily enter into administration at a future date.”
Former Leeds chairman Ridsdale, who has been advising Plymouth’s board since December 2010, has previously told BBC that £2 million is needed to ensure the club survives until the end of the season.
With his side now facing an uphill battle against relegation, Argyle manager Peter Reid told BBC Spotlight: “From a football point of view it’s a massive blow to the club.
“You’ve just got to get on with it. It’s going to make it really difficult but we’ve just got try and start the fight back against Brighton.
“Hopefully the board of directors can sort out the financial problems and hopefully this is the lowest ebb and we can start rising from this situation.”
Problems for Argyle first surfaced when they were placed under a transfer embargo by the Football League at the end of 2009 because of then-unpaid debts to HMRC.
Subsequent relegation from the Championship last season then cut Argyle’s income by around £3 million, and in November details emerged of two winding-up petitions from HMRC over further unpaid tax debts of £760 000.
The club then sold several of their star players in January, including Craig Noone and Bradley Wright-Phillips , in an effort to clear the petition debt.
Tax remains a major problem for the Devon-club with their next bill, estimated at £300 000, due next Tuesday.
However, by issuing the “notice of intention” the club is protected from its creditors, meaning that failure to pay HMRC by the deadline will not lead to the presentation of a compulsory winding-up petition.
Meanwhile, Plymouth’s players are still awaiting their January wages , having been paid late in both November and December.