The Learning and Skills Council has demanded urgent action at the troubled People's College, Nottingham, in a move that effectively calls for the resignation of both the principal and chair of governors.
The council has no powers to sack principals or chairs but, in the toughest action it has ever taken against any college, it has savaged the leadership and management.
Earlier this month the college received one of the worst inspection reports ever published.
The Office for Standards in Education said leadership and management were unsatisfactory; managers failed to ensure that all students received a satisfactory education; teaching standards were low; and the college did not provide value for money.
The college was given two months to prepare an action plan but the LSC is now turning the screw.
David Hughes, East Midlands director of the LSC, told FE Focus: "We are very concerned about a situation where the principal, who has been in post for many years, appears to have failed to accurately assess the quality of learning provided by the college.
"We are also concerned that under the leadership of the current chair the corporation appears not to have monitored effectively the quality of provision delivered by the college." Mr Hughes said the LSC only wanted to work with quality organisations. He was backed by Mark Haysom, LSC chief executive.
Beleaguered principal John Rudd said the college was about to complete a rigorous post-inspection plan. This would go to the corporation on July 12, and to the LSC well ahead of schedule. "I am confident that under the present leadership and governance we can effectively and speedily ensure at least satisfactory, and preferably good progress."
The LSC is conducting a structural review of FE in Nottingham and there is a strong possibility the college will be dissolved.
Mr Rudd said he had considered resigning. "Whatever future there is for the college, it must be handed over in the best possible shape. I do not see my future beyond handing over under arrangements which the LSC will eventually decide."
Stephen Hyde, chair of governors, could not be contacted.