Bolton Wanderers are set to go into administration after the club appeared in the High Court over a £1.2m unpaid tax bill.
The case on Wednesday was adjourned until 22 May to allow the club enough time to appoint an administrator.
Administration would result in Wanderers having a 12-point penalty imposed on them next season.
The club will play in League One next season after they were relegated from the Championship this term.
Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini had made a takeover bid, but Wanderers said on Thursday that the deal was off.
Bassini, who had been given 48 hours to prove to the English Football League he had the funds to take over, later claimed he had control of the club, but it was reported on Monday that his bid was on the brink of collapse.
Prospect of administration a 'massive disappointment'
In a statement published while the club were awaiting their case to be heard in the High Court on Wednesday, owner Ken Anderson said administration was the only possible outcome following the collapse of Bassini's takeover bid.
"This has been a massive disappointment to me as I understand the serious implications administration will bring to the businesses," he said.
On Bassini's bid, Anderson added: "Regrettably his continued time wasting and empty promises have caused a great deal of heartache and frustration for the staff and supporters alike and now leave the Eddie Davies Trust and I with little or no choice other than for one of us to place the businesses into administration, as any likelihood of finding any resolution in the High Court hearing is not possible."
It was the sixth time in the past 18 months that Bolton have faced a winding-up petition. Their latest case, originally brought by HM Revenue & Customs in February, has now been adjourned by the High Court on three occasions, with Wednesday's decision the latest in a string of off-field issues at the club this season.
Players are still owed wages for March and April, while the club could face further sanctions from the English Football League after their final home match of the season against Brentford on 27 April was postponed when the playing staff went on strike.
Bassini has told BBC Radio Manchester that he is still interested in purchasing the club and hopes to get the sale through before Bolton return to court.
Meanwhile, Bolton Whites Hotel, which adjoins the University of Bolton Stadium and is owned by the club, also appeared in the High Court over a separate winding-up petition and was also given an adjournment until 22 May.
BBC Radio Manchester's Jack Ranson at the High Court, London
Judge Clive Jones said it was "rather strange" that Bolton did not have a representative in the High Court.
Nonetheless, the major creditors were petitioning for a short adjournment, in the hope that an administrator could be appointed in that time.
Former owner Eddie Davies' trust fund, Fildraw, has served a notice with that intention and the club has been given until 22 May to see that it is done.
Only once an administrator has been appointed will we be able to start thinking about who could be in the frame to rescue the club.