London - European Champions Cup holders Saracens were on Friday fined 50,000 euros but escaped a ban for fielding an ineligible player in a pool-stage win against Racing 92.
In a wretched season for Saracens, the club were relegated from the Premiership the day before the Racing 92 match following persistent salary cap breaches.
Saracens had told European Cup organisers earlier this week that United States international prop Titi Lamositele's work permit expired the day before the match which they needed to win to reach the quarter-finals.
Lamositele was eligible on the Friday when Saracens announced the squad, but his permit had expired by the time he came on as a replacement in the 60th minute at Allianz Park on the Sunday.
The punishment could have been expulsion from the competition, which would have left Saracens, eliminated 28-7 by Sale in the English Cup later on Friday, with little to play for this season.
But at an independent disciplinary committee decided that Lamositele "may have been ineligible due an inadvertent administrative error on behalf of the club".
"The Committee accepted that Lamositele's work permit had expired unbeknownst to the club, and that Saracens had not sought to gain any unfair advantage by selecting the player," European Professional Club Rugby, which runs the European Cup, said in a statement.
"The Committee believes that this was an unfortunate sequence of events."
Of the 50,000 euro fine, half was suspended.
Saracens play Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-finals in April.