ROTHERHAM United have been deducted three points for fielding an inelgible player, leaving them just two points above Wigan Athletic.
Millers boss Steve Evans opted to play Derby defender Farrend Rawson for 90 minutes during the 1-0 victory over Brighton on Monday, April 6, despite his 28-day loan deal ending the day before.
It leaves Rotherham, who are one place above the relegation zone, on 41 points ahead of Millwall on 40 points and Latics who are on 39 points.
A Football Disciplinary Commission ruled Rotherham United are to be deducted three points, with immediate effect. The Millers won the match 1-0 with Rawson playing for the full 90 minutes.
Rotherham were also fined £30,000, half of which will be suspended until the end of the 2015/16 season. The club must also pay the costs of the hearing and The Football League.
But the case could still take another twist, with the Yorkshire outfit given until May 1 to lodge an appeal.
The Millers hired top QC Jim Sturman to fight the charge and have expressed their disappointment at the Football League’s sanction, saying they will consider an appeal.
“Rotherham United FC are very disappointed by the decision to deduct three points for fielding a player who was ineligible purely because of an administrative error,” a statement read.
“It is our view that true sports fans want to see competitions settled on the pitch and not to have them affected by what happens in disciplinary proceedings.
“We await the reasoned judgement of the Football Disciplinary Commission and once we have received it we will issue our appeal after discussion with Jim Sturman QC.
“In the meantime we are confident that our team possesses the will and spirit to ensure that the points deduction is academic by securing our Championship status on the pitch.
“It would not be appropriate to make any further comment on this matter until after the appeal process has been concluded.”
Rotherham already hold an advantage over their rivals, with them having three games remaining, while the Lions and Wigan only have two.
Rotherham have home games against promotion-chasing Norwich on Saturday and 19th-placed Reading next Tuesday before the trip to neighbours Leeds United on the final day.
Millwall face two play-off hopefuls in their remaining fixtures with Derby County at home first this Saturday before a trip to Wolves next week.
Gary Caldwell’s Latics side will also face the Black Country outfit, who are three points behind a play-off spot, on Saturday at the DW Stadium.
They’ll then travel to Brentford, who sit one place above Wolves on goal difference, on the last day of the season.