Artificial pitches will not be allowed in Leagues One and Two in 2015-16 after a tied vote by club chairmen.
The outcome was a surprise after a majority had indicated in September they would vote in favour of permitting the use of plastic playing surfaces.
At Thursday's meeting, 34 chairmen voted in favour of artificial pitches, with 34 against and four abstentions.
"This issue divides opinion amongst clubs," said Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey.
"While the outcome is different to previous indicative votes, it demonstrates that there is still a desire amongst clubs to find out more about artificial playing surfaces before taking such a significant step."
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A psychological edge? A nightmare to play on? Increasing risk of injury? A potential cash cow for lower-league clubs? In what could be a game-changing moment for English football, League One and Two club chairmen are set to vote on Thursday in favour of bringing back artificial pitches.
Four clubs in England - QPR, Luton, Preston and Oldham - installed a plastic playing surface in the 1980s. Those who remember the bouncing ball and diving goalies wearing long trousers to avoid suffering carpet burns may groan at the prospect of a return to those days.
But with the technology involved in making artificial pitches much improved in the 30 years since, is it really such a bad thing?
BBC Sport examines the pros and cons of the plastic pitch.
Just what is a plastic pitch?
You want the exact description? Well, it isn't the sexiest sentence you are ever going to read. But artificial turf is a surface made up of synthetic fibres made to look like natural grass.
A bit like the Beatles and going to the moon, it became popular in the 1960s when an American chap called David Chaney, helped by a team of researchers, created the first artificial piece of turf. By the early 1970s there were plastic pitches at baseball and football grounds throughout the US and Canada.
Four English clubs had it in the 1980s didn't they?
Indeed. QPR were the first to install one in 1981, followed by Luton, Preston and, most famously, Oldham Athletic, who rose to the top flight using a plastic pitch at Boundary Park.
Joe Royle, Latics manager back then, remembers it well. "I always thought, psychologically, that it gave us an edge," said the 65-year-old. "I made a point of watching the opposition's reaction when they arrived. If they stuck their heels in and shook their heads, I knew we had the upper hand."
Why don't they go ahead and do it then?
Price and tradition. Over to Matt Williams, chief executive at Shrewsbury Town. "We'll be voting no for quite simple reasons, because we believe football should be played on grass," he said. "The Football League should instead encourage lower league clubs to get their dressing rooms and floodlights up to scratch because some of the facilities are barely of a professional standard."
Williams also has an issue with the cost. "We've been told they are about £400,000 to install," he said. "Now if I said to my manager 'I am taking £400,000 out of your transfer budget to pay for a plastic pitch', he would think I was mad."
There are other downsides. It doesn't last forever so will need replacing. It also requires regular cleaning.
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