Hearts have been hit with a transfer embargo after failing to pay wages to several players this month, the Scottish Premier League has said.
The Tynecastle club have debts of £25 million and face a battle to finance running costs and tax bills in what they have called "a critical stage" of their attempt to deal with their deep financial crisis.
They are reported to need £500,000 just to tide them over to the start of next season.
In addition to imposing the transfer embargo, SPL officials said further punishments could follow if the wages situation was not resolved.
"The Scottish Premier League has been informed by Heart of Midlothian FC that the club has failed to pay a number of its players on time today," an SPL statement said.
"This is a remuneration default in terms of the SPL rules, and the club is therefore subject to an automatic transfer embargo while that remuneration default continues."
The SPL first imposed a transfer embargo on Hibs in October, when manager John McGlynn and six players did not receive wages.
The ban became indefinite shortly before Christmas when bonus payments for the previous season's Scottish Cup win were not paid, but that was later changed to enable them to sign under-21 players on a one-in, one-out basis.
Information from the Press Association was used in this report