Switzerland's national football league has decided to deduct seven points from FC Sion after the club failed to meet its licence obligations.
The league's disciplinary commission announced the unusual measure on Wednesday, stating that Sion had missed a June deadline for demonstrating their financial solvency. The club was supposed to produce either a bank guarantee or a cash sum totalling SFr1.2 million.
Disciplinary commission president Odilo Bürgy said the drastic punishment, which could seriously damage Sion's chances of reaching the championship round, was intended to set a precedent. The commission is empowered to hand down warnings, fines, deductions of up to 12 points or even expulsions from the league.
Sion have said they will appeal against the decision, with club president Gilbert Kadji insisting that a bank guarantee was faxed to the league before the deadline ran out.
"If our appeal is rejected, FC Sion will be dead," Kadji warned.
With Swiss football dominated by sides from the German-speaking part of the country, Sion are the only top division side from west Switzerland to command a relatively strong fan base. But the club now fear that failure to reach the championship round and the possible threat of relegation could bring about the sort of despondency common to other clubs in the region.
As things stand, Sion are now third from bottom in the Swiss league table with a tally of six points. Before the league handed down its punishment the club were in fourth place.
swissinfo with agencies