Irn-Bru First Division clubs may stage a breakaway to join the Scottish Premier League after a split over merger plans.
Only 16 of 30 clubs backed reconstruction plans put forward by the Scottish Football League and First Division teams may instead press on with proposals to create a second-tier of the SPL.
First Division clubs immediately moved to another room inside Hampden to weigh up their options after failing to reach an agreement at the SFL's annual general meeting.
Speaking on behalf of the First Division clubs, Hamilton chairman Les Gray said: "The whole group is disappointed that the outcome of the meeting resulted in a 16-13 vote.
"Everybody has worked incredibly hard to get it over the line but it has not been enough and nearly half of the SFL clubs have decided it is not for them.
"The next step for us is to take a few days to mull over it and look at all the other alternatives - you know what they are.
"We will do what is right for our clubs."
The SFL has planned a formal vote on the matter on June 10, but they need the backing of six more clubs before the changes can be introduced in time for next season.
Rangers were denied a vote as they are only an associate member after joining last summer.
SFL chief executive David Longmuir said: "We are now going to move to a vote on June 10 which is the appropriate lead time that we need to as one of our resolutions will have to be to look to wind up the organisation.
"It was a healthy discussion as usual. It was an indication today to see how clubs were feeling about the changed agenda and 16 clubs were in favour of the package of change as it currently stands and 13 were not ready to agree to it.
"So the 14-day lead time at least gives the clubs the chance to contemplate the due diligence process. And that will give them the ability to decide on June 10."