WREXHAM FC was yesterday placed into administration.
The proud 132-year-old club was immediately pitched into a relegation battle following a High Court hearing at Manchester.
The League One side became the first ever club to incur the Football League ' s automatic 10- point deduction penalty.
It now lies joint third from bottom with MK Dons on 14 points, just four ahead of basement outfit Stockport County.
The fate of Wrexham FC, which has debts totalling £2.5m, was decided in Court 17 of the Manchester Crown and County Court building.
The move came after the Inland Revenue, owed almost £890,000, served a winding up petition.
Case 1975/2004 started before Judge Maddocks at 11.30am and by 11.56am the administration order was granted.
The judge said it was the club's "one prospect" of survival and after 132 years it deserved to survive.
Barrister Louis Doyle said administration would not only help the club, it would protect it.
Its financial problems were partly blamed on the collapse and "debacle" of ITV Digital, the costly signing of an ex-Premiership player and an unsuccessful cup run.
"This is not a case in which administration is being used divisively by a club to manipulate its way out of indebtedness," said Mr Doyle.
He told the court the 2002 transfer of the freehold title of the stadium to Alex Hamilton's company, Crucialmove Limited, will be investigated by the administrators if necessary.
And he said club had the support of the Welsh Assembly, the WDA, Wrexham Council and the Supporters Trust.
"Wrexham has the reputation of a very strong fanbase," he added..
Speaking as he left the court building Wrexham FC director Dave Bennett said administration was the only way forward.
"The judge said that we were not going into administration to take advantage of the creditors. We did it to save the club.
"I'm sure the club will survive," he added.
"The atmosphere in the club at the moment is terrific. The staff are pulling together. The supporters are pulling together and I think we will go forward."
Quizzed about a possible challenge to the loss of 10 crucial points, the director added: "It's 50-50.
"We have taken advice from the administrator. We are the first club to go into administration with 10 points deducted. We have to follow the rules and it's going to be a bit of a challenge.
"Our manager Denis Smith has said he can overcome that.
"I am sure Denis will hold onto the players. We are lucky to have a manager like Denis Smith at this football club at this time."
Administrator Steve Williams said he was confident the club could find enough cash to last until the end of the season.
Mr Williams, of Begbies Traynor, Preston, was appointed joint administrator with David Acland .
Outside the court in Manchester Mr Williams said: "Administration gives a breathing space to the club to enable it to explore every avenue to ensure its long-term survival.
"Obviously it's a sad day in the history of the club but it is also a positive.
"The losses are relatively stable in the last few months and we are confident we can cashflow the club up to the end of the season, based on game receipts and revenue from other sources.
"We are not envisaging any player sales.
"Obviously we will have to consider that at the transfer window as the bids come in."
Asked how long the club could survive in administration, Mr Williams said: "I think realistically the end of the season will be a critical time.
"Not least because the Football League will want to ensure before the start of the next season that the club has a long-term survival plan."
He said appealing the points deduction would be tough.
The club must fork out a £5,000 deposit to launch an appeal and the total cost would be £20,000 --money the club did not have.
But he added: "I am optimistic. We think Wrexham has potential.
"It is well run now and has a big future if we get people coming forward with the right amount of money."
Manager Denis Smith last night remained optimistic the Dragons would find a way out of the current mess.
He pledged his immediate future to the club if it survives, aiming to push next year for promotion to the Championship.
Speaking before the players coach left for their FA Cup clash with Scunthorpe, Mr Smith had mixed feelings about the club going into administration.
"I am disappointed and pleased," he said. "Disappointed we have lost 10 points but pleased we are not going into liquidation.
"It is going to be a challenge and we are still hear to try and do something and we have to make it positive.
"I believe when we get the play-ers fit we can get out of the relegation battle.
"It is a disappointment for the players and the fans and for myself."
Mr Smith said he was hopeful the Reds would come through their cup clash and land a lucrative tie with one of the big clubs such as Man Utd or Arsenal giving a big cash pay day.
A spokesman for the Football League last night said Wrexham had seven days in which to lodge an appeal against the 10 point penalty.