Serie A clubs voted to keep the number of clubs in the Italian top division at 20, the league said on Monday after their shareholders' meeting in Milan.
Only four clubs voted in favour of a reduction to 18 clubs in Serie A -- Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and AS Roma -- and the number of clubs will remain at 20, as it has been since the 2004-05 season.
The top clubs had pushed for the reduction in an effort to reduce the number of games played and increase the quality of football on offer but needed a majority of 14 in order to pass the reform.
The attempt by Juve, Milan, Inter and Roma to reduce the league size was criticised by directors from other teams.
"I think the attitude of [the clubs in question] was wrong," Urbino Cairo, Torino president, said to reporters after the meeting. "I would say what they wanted to do seemed like a super league."
Milan president Paolo Scaroni made the case for reducing the number of teams to reporters prior to the meeting and vote.
"In reality, clubs like us who play international competitions and who have many players called up by the national teams complain about too many matches," Scaroni said.
"The players play the continental tournaments, their national team matches, the Italian Cup and the league. All this leads to a load of matches that becomes unbearable and which is the cause of many injuries.
"We have already had 18 teams in the league before. In fact I also remember it at 16."
A proposal for reforms was also approved which will be presented at the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Italian football federation (FIGC) in March.
The Italian league is pushing for more autonomy from the FIGC, similar to the Premier League in England.
"Currently, the system does not give Serie A the autonomy and decision-making weight it should have with respect to economic weight," Serie A president Lorenzo Casini said after a meeting of Serie A clubs last week.
Milan's Scaroni added to the league president's message on Monday.
"We in Serie A, who finance the entire game of Italian football, have 12% of the power within the Federation, which creates an endless cycle of frustration," he said.