Portsmouth left on-loan striker Aruna Dindane out of their side for the home win over Hull on Saturday as it would have cost the cash-strapped club £4m.
Pompey are in administration and cannot afford the fee, stipulated in the player's contract by his parent club Lens, should he play another game.
"There was a clause in his contract that he could play a certain amount of games," explained manager Avram Grant.
"If he played one more we would pay £4m and at the moment we cannot pay £4m."
The Ivory Coast forward is now expected to leave the Premier League's bottom-placed club and return to France.
Since joining Portsmouth in late August, Dindane, 29, has scored seven goals in 20 appearances.
We are trying to do our best for Portsmouth after the wrong decision was made against us. It was a decision to play until the end
In his absence on Saturday, Portsmouth came from behind to beat Hull 3-2 at Fratton Park.
Pompey, who have been docked nine points after going into administration last month, were trailing 2-1 with three minutes left but hit back to win and Grant was quick to praise his players.
"I think we are doing a great favour to the Premier League and to football," said Grant.
"The Premier League can be proud that this game is an ambassador for them."
"If we play with our heads down, the fans would not come and that would be bad for the league.
"We are trying to do our best for Portsmouth after the wrong decision was made against us. It was a decision to play until the end."
Grant, who also voiced displeasure at "people in the office making decisions against football", had intimated ahead of Hull's visit that he might field a weakened team in protest at the nine-point penalty.
The deduction, which leaves Portsmouth 14 points adrift of 17th-placed West Ham with eight games remaining, means the south coast club are all but certain to be playing Championship football next season.
Yet Pompey's fighting spirit was clear for all to see against Hull as Jamie O'Hara curled home an 88th-minute free-kick before substitute Kanu sealed the points in dramatic style a minute later.
And Grant, who restored England goalkeeper David James to his starting line-up, poured cold water on the notion that he had fielded a reduced-strength side after making five changes to the line-up beaten 4-1 by Liverpool on Monday night.
"What is a weak team?" pondered Grant. "We had six players out through injury. As long as I'm here we will come to every game with a high spirit. You don't have to give up.
"Football is more than football. It's very easy to break people and a team in difficult moments. You can only do what we did with the right spirit."
Grant revealed that he had discussed the question of how to approach the rest of the season with his players, who are relishing the prospect of an FA Cup semi-final against either Fulham or Tottenham on April 11.
"I said that we need to be professional, we need to do our job on the pitch. Maybe in the future they can do something about the nine points, but this is not my area," said Grant.
Hull defeat hurts new boss Dowie
Grant revealed that he had been contacted by supporters who are looking into ways to fight the punishment imposed on the club.
"Two fans called me, they are lawyers and said they are going to do something because it is not an equal chance," he added.
Iain Dowie, taking charge of Hull for the first time following the departure of Phil Brown, was encouraged by his side's display despite missing out on what would have been a first away win for the Tigers for 12 months.
"It's a cruel, cruel game but there was enough spirit and tenacity to please me," said Dowie.
"There was always a mountain to climb but I won't be downbeat. We have eight rounds to go of a nine-round fight. We lost the first round but can't allow negativity to happen.
"We all feel low, but I have to make them keep believing because belief is such an important thing. You learn a lot about people in disappointment."
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