AmaZulu have been docked six points in the country's Absa Premiership, plunging the club to the foot of the table just a fifth of the way through the campaign.
And there may be further trouble ahead for the Durban-based team with the threat of automatic relegation if the side do not adhere to a ruling made by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in relation to outstanding payments to Namibian player Phineas Nambandi.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport had upheld an order that AmaZulu must pay Nambandi R1.086-million plus five percent interest per annum from 25 July 2014 in compensation after terminating the contract of the player with three years remaining on his deal.
The player had only been seeking R300,000 in what has proved a hugely costly mistake for Usuthu, who must still fork out the compensation even after their six-point deduction for defying the CAS and FIFA rulings.
South Africa's Premier Soccer League (PSL) confirmed the move in a media statement on Friday, saying they were acting in accordance with a FIFA ruling dated August 10, which is as follows:
- AmaZulu ordered to pay a fine of CHF 10,000. That sum was to be paid within 30 days of notification of the decision to a named FIFA account.
- Granted AmaZulu a final deadline of 30 days to, as from notification (i.e. as from 16 August 2018), make payment of the sum contemplated in a CAS award and proof of payment was to be provided to the South African Football Association;
- Ordered that if payment was not made in accordance with point 2 above then six points would automatically be deducted without any further formal decision;
- Indicated that if after the deduction of these points, payment was still not made, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee would decide, upon the request of the Creditor [Nambandi], on a possible relegation of AmaZulu's first team to the next lowest division [National First Division].
FIFA had initially ruled in favour of Nambandi in September last year, before AmaZulu launched a challenge with CAS, which proved unsuccessful, with the body giving the club until September 16 to pay their debt or face the points deduction.
AmaZulu claim that Nambandi's contract was with AmaZulu Football Club Pty Ltd, but that the team is now owned by a different entity, Lyrastar Investments.
The change came when AmaZulu purchased the status of Thanda Royal Zulu in July 2017 to buy their way back into the South African top-flight.
If the club to not settle their debt with Nambandi, they face a return to the second tier with relegation their next punishment.