Ismaily face possible relegation to the second division if they decide to withdraw from the Premier League in protest at what they called "biased refereeing," an Egyptian Football Association (EFA) official said on Saturday.
The coastal side were incensed after slumping to a 1-0 defeat by El-Geish on Friday, courtesy of a second-half penalty from Ghanaian striker Ernest Papa Arko.
Ismaily claimed the referee favoured El-Geish and threatened to abandon the league. Cairo giants Zamalek also issued a similar warning last month, but eventually reneged on their stance as complaints against Egyptian referees grew to an unprecedented level.
“The regulations state that a team which withdraws from the league is automatically relegated to the second division,” EFA competitions committee member Sayed Bekhit said.
“The club will be also handed an EGP 300,000 fine. Their results in the second half of the season will be annulled,” said Bekhit.
Ismaily were also furious after the EFA initially said a foreign referee would be in charge of the game.
EFA chairman Samir Zaher admitted the association committed a mistake after failing to inform Ismaily that Egyptian official Fahim Omar would preside over their match against El-Geish.
“We should have announced that an Egyptian referee will be in charge of the game, it was a mistake. The person who made that mistake will be heavily punished,” said Zaher in a television interview.
Bitter rivals Ahly and Zamalek, who compete for the league title, had their league games against Petrojet and Ittihad El-Shorta refereed by Saudi and Tunisian officials respectively.
Egyptian referees threatened recently to strike after being accused of bias as tensions rose in domestic football, following January’s popular revolution which ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.
Ismaily won the last of their league titles in 2002 after beating off competition from Ahly in a breathtaking campaign. The team often complains that Ahly, Egypt’s most popular club, are favoured by football authorities.