The Welsh Rugby Union has agreed to phase in the size reduction of the semi-professional Welsh Premiership.
The clubs were unhappy at the lack of consultation over the plan to cut the league down from 16 to 12 teams.
They reluctantly accepted the proposal, but petitioned the WRU to phase in the cull over two years.
The WRU board voted in favour of the clubs' proposal on Thursday, with a reduction to 14 teams next year and to 12 teams the following year.
Welsh rugby's governing body had wanted a 12-team league in place for the 2006/7 season to strengthen the structure of the semi-pro sides feeding the regions.
Under the WRU's plan, playing records and facilities will be the main criteria in determining which clubs would stay in the Premiership.