THE final curtain appeared to be coming down on York City Knights tonight amid high-level meetings between the players, club chiefs and high-ranking Rugby Football League officials.
Club chairman John Guildford addressed the squad at the team's training ground at Nestle Rowntree Park in Haxby Road.
Also present were directors Neil Jennings and Dave Baldwin and, in separate meetings with the players, members of the RFL, including operations and legal director Karen Moorhouse.
Afterwards, a statement from the club board confirmed the plan was to close the business as had been feared, with the team - genuine promotion contenders from League One - to be disbanded, ahead of the Super 8s section of the season.
Players and fans alike were left hoping an 11th hour rescue package could be put together, with the directors and the RFL still desperate to find a solution.
It is understood the RFL have extended the transfer deadline specifically for Knights players should the club fold, allowing them some breathing space. The transfer deadline for this season is otherwise tomorrow.
The board's statement said: "It is with sincere regret we are to announce that York City Knights will be closing as a business once all legalities and obligations have been carried out, which will allow all the players and staff to become free agents.
"This is done with deep sadness but with the certainty we did everything in our power to last through the challenging times since our eviction from Huntington Stadium in 2014 and the difficult circumstances the club has experienced since.
"The board has no alternative and has been forced to make this very difficult decision."
The statement blamed the troubled groundshare with York City and City of York Council's community stadium project for their demise, saying it left the business unsustainable.
The club statement ended: "We hope that rugby league can stay alive in York and someone will come along and succeed where we could not."
It added: "We know the vast majority of our supporters and the people of York and beyond will be saddened by this news.
"We would like to thank you all for your support during the nearly 14 years we were part of the sport in York.
"The board would particularly like to thank James Ford (head coach), the staff, the players and volunteers and wish them all the best for the future."
There was no official statement from the RFL, other than the announcement earlier in the day that Sunday's game had been "postponed", rather than cancelled, implying there was a chance it might yet get played in the future, in the hope a resolution could be found.
The rugby league fraternity had also rallied round, with Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall confirming to The Press the Dons offered to stage Sunday's Super 8s opener at their Keepmoat Stadium "at cost".
The Press understands Featherstone offered to put it on free of charge on Saturday, 24 hours before Rovers' key Championship clash with Bradford Bulls, while Castleford had likewise offered their facilities.
Heworth ARLC also offered to step in again, like they did for much of last season when the Knights were rendered homeless after the council's fall-out with Guildford saw them ousted from the community stadium scheme.
The RFL had previously said no more games could be played at that Elmpark Way venue given it does not meet League One criteria but have not ruled out giving special dispensation again as an emergency solution.
Sunday's match scheduled for Bootham Crescent was called off after the Knights - who have played at City's ground this season as part of the community stadium scheme after the then new directors Baldwin and Jennings got them back involved - were told they could not use it this weekend for fear of damaging the pitch, given City have three friendlies there in eight days.
That triggered claims that contracts had been breached and ultimately that ongoing ground issues meant the rugby league club may have to fold.
An RFL spokesman had said: "York City Knights and Doncaster have agreed to officially postpone the game on Sunday. Further information about if, when and where the game will be replayed will be released in due course."