Leeds United have failed in their bid to claim back the 15 points they were deducted by the Football League after an independent tribunal on Thursday upheld the penalty.
Leeds officials failed to convince during the three-day hearing that the League acted unfairly when docking the points as punishment for the club’s handling of its bankruptcy last year.
The hearing’s decision to rule in the League’s favour means Leeds stay in sixth place in League One and they must now hope to secure promotion via a play-off place.
The verdict will be met with huge celebration by Swansea, Doncaster, Carlisle and Nottingham Forest, who had all been braced for possible legal action had the three-man panel overturned Leeds’ sanction.
If Leeds had been handed back all 15 points they would have jumped from sixth to second, ousting Doncaster from an automatic promotion spot, while Swansea would not have been assured of the League One title.
Leeds chairman Ken Bates confirmed he would accept the tribunal’s findings, but was aggrieved at its criticism of the club for the delay in bringing about the action.
A club statement said: “It is galling that we are criticised for the delay in bringing the appeal when it was delays by the Football League that effectively backed us into this corner in the first place.
“The appeal to member clubs was imposed by the Football League.
“Leeds United will be proposing at the forthcoming Football League AGM a change to the regulations to this effect to protect other clubs in the future.
“The matter is now closed and the focus can now return to the pitch. The decision to remain in League One was always correct from the club’s perspective.
“If the team are now able to progress through the play-offs to the Championship, then it would be the appropriate reward for the efforts of the club’s fans and players in overcoming the penalty imposed on the club.”
Leeds have already ensured their place in the play-offs with victory at Yeovil last week.
Gary McAllister’s side will play their final match of the season against Gillingham on Sunday in front of a sell-out crowd at Elland Road.
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