Plymouth deducted 10 points
Plymouth, FA Cup semi-finalists in 1984 but never a top-flight club, said on Monday they would appoint an administrator as they battle to avoid liquidation.
The English Football League imposes points penalties for financial failures. Argyle's punishment means they are now bottom of League One, 10 points from safety, with relegation to the fourth division highly likely.
A Football League statement said: "This sporting sanction has been implemented following receipt of formal confirmation that the club had filed notice of intention to appoint an administrator with the (English) High Court.
"This action is defined as an insolvency event with the League's regulations as it establishes a moratorium on creditor actions against the club."
An earlier statement on Plymouth's website from deputy chairman Paul Stapleton said: "The directors... have today issued a 'Notice of Intention' to appoint an administrator as they continue to seek a solution to the company's cashflow problems.
"This action gives the club protection from insolvency action from creditors, whilst at the same time allowing the directors the opportunity to turn current expressions of interest into a permanent and lasting solution for the club."
It added: "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."
Plymouth, managed by former England midfielder Peter Reid, have fought three winding-up orders this season over tax bills from the British government's Customs and Revenue department.
The club avoided the latest winding-up order at the High Court earlier this month after borrowing 330,000 pounds, according to media reports.