Premiership and European champions Saracens have been docked 35 points for breaching salary cap regulations.
The punishment comes after an investigation into business partnerships between chairman Nigel Wray and some of the club’s players.
Saracens have also been fined £5.36m, with the points deduction coming into immediate effect in the Premiership.
The charges relate to a failure to disclose player payments in each of the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
In the five seasons that Saracens have finished as Premiership champions, a 35-point deduction would have meant they would not have reached the play-offs. They would have finished 10th last season had the same punishment been imposed in 2018-19.
Saracens, who have won two of their three Premiership matches so far this season, are entitled to seek a review of the decision by an arbitration body.
Premiership Rugby introduced their salary cap in 1999 to ensure the financial viability of all clubs and the competition.
The regulations are also designed to control inflationary pressures on clubs’ costs and provide a level playing field for clubs and a competitive Premiership.
More to follow.