Heart of Midlothian have been barred from registering new players over the age of 21 until February 2014 by the Scottish FA.
The decision was reached at Hampden on Thursday is punishment for the club entering administration.
The embargo will bar the club from recruiting players older than 21 until the end of the January transfer window and means Gary Locke will be unable to add experienced players to his small squad of players until at least February.
An SFA statement said the penalty was "prohibition up until February 1, 2014, of registration of new players aged 21 and over".
It added: "This prohibition will not apply to players currently registered with the Scottish FA as being with the club."
No financial penalty was imposed by the disciplinary panel.
Hearts were represented at the hearing by joint administrator Trevor Birch, of BDO said the decision was "disappointing".
Mr Birch said: “The decision to impose a transfer embargo on players over 21 until the end of January is disappointing.
"Whilst I appreciate that the SFA rules state that clubs in administration will face sanctions, Hearts have already had a points deduction and player embargo – and it feels like we’re being penalised twice. That said, these are the cards that we’ve been dealt and we’ll now just have to get on with it.
“At least the decision gives us clarity and means that the bidders can move forward and focus their attention on refining their proposals rather than worrying about possible sanctions.”
Hearts entered administration on June 19 as the weight of their debts become too much for the club to continue with.
BDO were appointed with the blessing of the Lithuanian authorities, to whom the club owes around £25m to Ukio Bankas and UBIG.
The automatic sanctions imposed by the SPL, now rebranded at the SPFL, were a 15 point penalty for the season ahead, plus a full registration embargo for the duration of the administration.
There are currently two bidders attempting to buy the club out of administration.
However neither fan-backed Foundation of Hearts, nor Five Star Football Ltd run by former Livingston owner Angelo Massone, have yet been able to agree a deal with the major creditors in Lithuania.
More About Hearts in administration
- Hearts supporters must raise £6m over five years to achieve fan ownership
- Hearts near coming out of administration after UBIG agree share sale
- Hearts pair David Southern and John Murray take temporary wage cuts
- Hearts in talks with Driver and Skacel as club hopes to replace five
- SPFL leaves door open for Hearts to strengthen squad under existing rules
- SPFL board to consider plea to allow Hearts to make signings
- Terry Butcher open to Hibernian's city rivals Hearts having embargo lifted
- Creditors report reveals Heart of Midlothian debts totalling £28.5m
- Hearts accept SFA admin charge but will plead mitigating circumstances
People who read this story also read
- Celtic's Derk Boerrigter: It's s**t for Rangers being in League 1
- Season preview: Can crisis-hit Hearts defy the odds to beat relegation?
- Football Talk: Saints and Hibs European previews, £45m for Hearts stadium
- Callum Paterson hoping to thrive on the pressure of firing Hearts to safety
- Hibernian hope to sign defender before weekend as injury crisis hits squad