London Welsh have lost their appeal against a five-point deduction for fielding ineligible player Tyson Keats, the Rugby Football Union said on Tuesday.
An Independent Appeal Panel upheld the decision to dock the club five Premiership points and fine them 15,000 pounds but removed a further suspended five-point deduction that had been imposed in the original ruling earlier this month.
"The Independent Appeal Panel accepts that the circumstances of this case are quite exceptional," Gareth Rees, chairman of the panel, said in a statement on the RFU website (www.rfu.com).
"However, we have to mark this serious breach with a points deduction and, although we have allowed the appeal in respect of the five points which were suspended, we must acknowledge the impact on the integrity of the game and deduct five Premiership points with immediate effect."
The club, who won a court battle to join the Premiership this season, are bottom of the table five points behind Sale Sharks with four matches remaining.
New Zealand-born scrumhalf Keats, 31, played 10 Premiership matches for London Welsh this season without being correctly registered.
Former London Welsh team manager Mike Scott has been banned from rugby for life for providing false information over the registration of Keats.
(Writing by Sonia Oxley in Manchester; Editing by Justin Palmer)