Western Force's battle to remain in Super Rugby appears to be over after the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced a resolution to discontinue the franchise's licence.
Either Force or Melbourne Rebels have been set to make way following the decision by South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby (SANZAAR) to reduce Super Rugby from 18 teams to 15 in a bid to cut costs and safeguard the viability of the competition.
South Africa's Cheetahs and Southern Kings have already been sacrificed, but the ARU's initial projected timeframe, announced in April, of between 48 and 72 hours for a decision to be made has proven to be wildly inaccurate.
It finally appeared likely that Rebels would survive when an arbitration process began late last month between the ARU and Force, as the governing body sought to discontinue the Perth-based team's participation.
And ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said in a statement on Friday: "The ARU board has today made the decision to discontinue the Western Force as the Super Rugby competition reverts to 15 teams for the 2018 season.
"This has been a complex process to reduce Australia's Super Rugby representation to four teams as agreed by SANZAAR following its review of the competition.
"We are regretful that this issue has consumed so much of the public commentary on the game in 2017. It was clearly not our intention for this to play out over such a lengthy period however there have been factors outside the ARU's control that have prevented us from completing the process."
Western Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, the former chief executive of a major iron ore producer, publicly pledged his support to Force after the team, who finished second in Super Rugby's Australian conference in 2017, defeated Waratahs 40-11 at home in their final match of the season.
But that backing appears unlikely to spare the franchise.
Clyne's statement continued: "Our decision to exit the Western Force has been guided primarily by financial outcomes.
"As we have reinforced throughout this process, there are commercial realities which are linked to declining on-field performance across our Super Rugby teams which has put Australian rugby in a position where it can no longer sustain five teams.
"Furthermore, the significant unbudgeted support funding that has been provided to Super Rugby teams over the past five years has greatly affected our capacity to invest in community rugby.
"This is a sad day for rugby, especially for Western Force fans. We accept that there will be anger and resentment over this decision and we sympathise with those fans. We sincerely hope that they are not lost to the game forever.
"The decision to exit the Western Force from Super Rugby is not a decision to abandon the game in Western Australia.
"Western Australia will retain an important place in Australian rugby and the ARU will continue to support youth development programs and the community game in the west. There will be a clear pathway for young Western Australian rugby players to reach the highest level and represent the Wallabies.
"Our immediate concern is to support the individuals at the Western Force through these difficult circumstances and we will deploy various ARU management staff to Western Australia to provide assistance to all players and staff."
23. Februar 2018
|Valverde hints at resting Messi, Suarez for Girona clash|
|Napoli sign free agent Milic|
|Barclay labels England ´massive favourites´ for Calcutta Cup|
|Johnson tells England: Don´t give Scotland ´scent of victory´|
|Zidane offers condolences after Basque police officer´s death|
|FA charge Guardiola over yellow ribbon protest|
|City have to lift titles - Guardiola focused on Wembley glory against Arsenal|
|Spalletti urges Inter to ´believe in our strength´ and end wretched run|
|Best unconcerned with Sexton fitness|
|Christensen a future Chelsea captain, says Conte|
|Fonte leaves West Ham for Dalian Yifang|
|Guardia Civil search Guardiola family´s plane|
|Unwell Neymar facing race to make Le Classique|
|Playing Chelsea means less and less every year, says Mourinho|
|Conte hopes Manchester United bench ´fantastic´ Pogba|
|Dembele ´a genius of football´ like Maradona and Ronaldinho, claims Pochettino|
|Otaegui surges into slender lead in Qatar|
|Villarreal suspend Semedo after attempted murder allegation|
|Jesus could return but Guardiola has doubts over Sterling|
|He took 10 seconds to be ready – Mourinho salutes professional Pogba|
|Alderweireld a doubt as Pochettino stays silent on transfer rumours|
|Conte dismisses Mourinho tension|
|Nothing is decided - Klopp urges against Liverpool complacency|
|Heynckes ´can´t imagine´ Bayern sanctioning Lewandowski sale|
|FIFA closes Neymar´s Barcelona bonus case|
|Bale still important to Real Madrid, Zidane insists|
|Heynckes plays down Robben´s frustration|
|Central Coast Mariners 1 Wellington Phoenix 0: Hosts end 11-match winless run|
|Arsenal handed tough Milan test in Europa League´s round of 16|
|Europa League: Last-16 draw in full|
|I am the lion of the jungle - Wilder ready to pounce on Ortiz|
|Vitolo apologises for sexist ´joke´ after Atletico win|
|Paletta joins Jiangsu Suning|
|Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar are the only superstars, says Pele|
|Rebels capitalise on Higginbotham red, Highlanders beat Blues in thriller|
|Arsenal have ´unfinished business´ in EFL Cup after 2011 loss - Wilshere|
|Srna given 17-month doping ban|
|Winter Olympics 2018: Larocque apologises for silver-medal snub|
|Arsenal boss Wenger backs Wilshere after Keane rant|
|Basque police express ´dismay´ at death of officer after fan violence|
|Jones was alarmed by England´s lack of fitness|
|Wembley hero Ramsey winning race to face Manchester City|
|McLaren launch new-look MCL33|
|EFL Cup final: Bravo and Ospina pitch to be heroes before stepping back into the shadows|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at round three of the Six Nations|
|EFL Cup final: Wenger aiming for another glorious Wembley outing|
|Ligament damage but no surgery for Lynn|
|Wizards upstage new-look Cavs, Westbrook hits buzzer-beater|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Guadalajara poised for quarters, Red Bulls draw|
|Del Potro stunned by Tiafoe at Delray Beach Open|
|Bouchard lawyer satisfied after jury rules against USTA|
|´Enough is enough, we gotta take action´ - Panthers´ Luongo on gun control|
|Former NBA pair help Brazil stay perfect in World Cup qualifying|
|Keane: Wilshere is the most over-rated player on the planet|
|Monfils wins rain-interrupted clash against top seed Cilic|
|Earnhardt says short-track speed skating is ´NASCAR on ice´|
|My knee flared up – Wawrinka reveals reason for retirement|
|Stoger: Dortmund were lucky to survive Atalanta scare|
|Gattuso hopes to continue as AC Milan boss|
|Europa League Review: Arsenal survive scare, Dortmund battle past Atalanta|
|Noren, Simpson share Honda Classic lead after Tiger shoots 70|
|´Complacent´ Arsenal had no ideas, Wenger admits|
|Wilshere pulls no punches after Arsenal´s Ostersunds defeat|
|Batshuayi accuses Atalanta fans of racism|
|Mercedes not responsible for spoiling F1 spectacle, Wolff claims|
22. Februar 2018
|Veteran kicker Vinatieri signs with Colts for further year|
|More injury woe as Wawrinka retires from Open 13 Marseille|
|Villarreal defender Semedo charged with attempted murder|
|West Indies taking nothing for granted in World Cup qualifying|
|Police officer dies after clashes between Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow fans|