The Rugby League has received applications from 25 towns and cities to stage matches in the 2013 World Cup. The 14-team tournament has attracted bids from all the major heartland areas, as well as from other centres, like Bolton and Bristol.
"It has been an inspiring few months and we have been impressed by the quality, detail and the diverse nature of the proposed partnerships we have seen," said the RFL's director of projects and planning, Sally Bolton, who has been in charge of inspecting the potential venues. "We now have some tough decisions to make."
The RFL also confirmed that 13 clubs would be told next Tuesday that they qualify to compete in Super League for the next three years. With Widnes already included, that means that one existing club will drop out.
David Hodgson, meanwhile, has chosen to return to his hometown to play for Hull KR next season. The Huddersfield winger, previously with Halifax, Wigan and Salford, has agreed a three-year contract.
The former Test winger Gareth Raynor has signed on for another season at Bradford.
Castleford have been told that they can play both their on-loan forwards, Rob Parker from Salford and Ben Davies from Wigan, in their Challenge Cup quarter-final against Huddersfield on Sunday. The tie of the round, between Warrington and Wigan, is already officially sold out.
Leigh are still urgently looking for new investors despite their nail-biting success in the Northern Rail Cup final against Halifax on Sunday.
"It doesn't change where we are financially," said their coach, Ian Millward, after the victory over Halifax. "I would love to stand in front of you and tell you that someone is coming on board, but there is still a lot of work to be done."