World Snooker expects to receive six bids to host the sport's world championship in 2006.
Ronnie O'Sullivan could be one of the last Crucible champions
Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, Preston, Newcastle and Liverpool all submitted bids before the 17 December deadline expired.
The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has hosted the event since 1977.
"We will narrow those bids down to a shortlist of two or three," World Snooker's business development director Charlie Burt told BBC Sport.
The Crucible's five-year deal comes to an end after next year's championships, and World Snooker has opened up the process of applying for the new contract.
Next year's event will also be the last to be sponsored by tobacco firm Embassy, meaning World Snooker will have to find new sponsorship.
"We will then consider the merits of each city and will have everything in place to announce our decision at next year's tournament," added Burt.
"There are two elements to the bidding process.
"Firstly, the need to acquire the license to actually host the Championship itself, and secondly, to develop a 'home of snooker' and we'll give both aspects our consideration."
The idea that the event could move overseas in the foreseeable future now looks to have been ruled out.
Six-time world champion Steve Davis said he was open-minded about any possible move from the Crucible.
"There's no need to change the venue for change's sake," he told BBC Sport.
"But it would be interesting to see how many people would come if really good hospitality and catering was laid on.
"I don't get the feeling that anybody is up in arms, even though it's got history.
"Nobody seems to be saying 'this is wrong'. Nobody seems to be coming out with a good enough reason why it absolutely has to be there."