Falkirk have missed out on promotion to the Scottish Premier League after a vote of the 12 clubs went against them.
A Falkirk delegation arrives at Hampden earlier this month
SPL chairmen voted on Friday to deny them entry into the top flight, although it was not disclosed how close the voting was.
Falkirk had been asked to provide proof that their ground-share with present tenants Airdrie United at the Excelsior Stadium satisfied the SPL's rules over primacy of tenure.
But their argument failed to win the required majority of votes and it now seems certain that they will have to play First Division football next season, while the SPL's bottom club Motherwell will remain in the league.
Falkirk have no right of appeal to the SPL, but will examine other avenues of appeal.
The news is devastating for the First Division champions who had been convinced they had done enough to convince the SPL members of their right to promotion.
"Naturally we are bitterly disappointed, because we put forward a robust case for promotion," chairman Campbell Christie said in a statement.
"Our legal advice, including an opinion from senior counsel, was that our interim stadium arrangement was robust. We will be asking the SPL to explain their decision.
"We will take stock of the situation and will consider our next steps in discussion with our lawyers.
"Until we decide how we will respond to the SPL decision, a period of uncertainty will remain that makes planning for next season even more difficult for the club."
SPL chairman Lex Gold confirmed that Falkirk's only avenue of appeal would be through the courts.
We are sorry for our players and fans, but many of them will not be surprised by the SPL's decision
Falkirk chairman Campbell Christie
"It is open to Falkirk to appeal this at law but it is doubtful
they would be able to appeal through the Scottish Football Association," he added.
"I do appreciate that Falkirk will be very disappointed. They have a very good board who are a credit to the club.
"But the judgement of the clubs was made on the basis of the information available."
The decision is a potential lifesaver for struggling Motherwell, who have been in administration for over a year now and for whom relegation would have spelled potential disaster.
Club administrator Bryan Jackson said: "We sympathise with Falkirk supporters but obviously we are very relieved to remain in the SPL next season.
"The past year has been extraordinarily difficult at Motherwell. Recently it has been impossible to plan for next season and the prospect of relegation has not helped in our attempts to find a buyer or to re-structure the club.
"Playing in the SPL next season will ensure the club will remain on a sound financial footing."
Manager Terry Butcher added: "Our players responded well in very difficult circumstances for the club and playing in the SPL next season is the news they desperately were waiting to hear."
Gold also confirmed that the 10 clubs who announced their resignation from the league last year had formally withdrawn those resignations at the meeting.