Two clubs could lose their places in Super League later this year following the Rugby Football League's ruling that both Widnes and Halifax meet the minimum standards.
Barrow, as expected, failed in their Super League application but Championship rivals Widnes got the green light to return to the top flight in 2012 after being handed the first three-year licence, while Halifax live to fight another day.
The RFL's independent board of directors, who chose to promote Widnes, will announce the rest of the recipients of Super League licences on July 26 and Halifax could be competing with Wakefield and Castleford, the two current clubs thought to be most at risk, for places in the 14-team league.
"The commitment from the RFL was that there would be a minimum of one club elevated and it's right that any other club that meets the criteria has the opportunity to test itself against the existing Super League clubs," explained RFL chief executive Nigel Wood.
"At the end of the day it will be on the strength of the plans that are submitted. It will be a proper and transparent process."
While Widnes were overjoyed to get the go-ahead to return to Super League, Thursday's announcement produced mixed reactions from Halifax.
"We're just really disappointed," said director Mike Kelly. "We're happy that the Rugby League decided we meet the Super League criteria but disappointed we didn't get the nod.
"As you saw from the team's performance in last year's Grand Final, we never give up and we will keep going.
"We hope and expect that in July we will be in a winning position. We still believe in our heart that our bid is as good as many of those in Super League. We will take some feedback from the League to find out our weaknesses and work on them."
RFL chairman Richard Lewis, head of the five-strong decision-making body, said: "It was not an easy choice and obviously two other clubs have been left disappointed. But Widnes deserve it. They have done well in the last three years both on and off the field and we believe they will raise the standards of Super League."