Historic Kirkgate market in Leeds could close in the next five years.
The shocking prediction comes as pressure mounted on council bosses to give more support to the market amid fears for its future.
Pressure group joins fight: Click here for more details.
The call for more help came as one councillor warned: "The market is in a state of crisis."
* Click here to view the YEP picture galleries of Leeds Nostalgia.
Now a campaign group called Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market has joined the fight for its future.
* Click here to watch latest YEP news and sport video reports.
Megan Waugh said: "The council needs to seriously change how it manages the market because if they don't and it continues this way, five or 10 years down the line it will be practically empty and it will close."
Long regarded as one of the city's key attractions, the market continues to make 1m a year for the council.
But battling against the recession and with 15 per cent of stalls empty, traders and councillors say urgent action is needed to breathe new life into the Victorian market.
A deputation from the Leeds branch of the National Federation of Market Traders put their case for more support to a full meeting of Leeds council.
Spokeswoman Jo Williams said: "The market has been declining for the last 20 years. People are paying high levels of rent for sub-standard conditions."
She claimed not enough of the 1m surplus was spent improving the
She called on the council to headhunt an expert in running and
revitalisiing markets, offer rent reductions, invest more and reduce charges at car parks close to the market.
Ms Williams said: "Time is not on our side. It needs to be rebuilt into the market flagship it once was and can be again."
In a later debate on the issue, Coun Mark Dobson (Lab, Garforth and Swillington) said: "The market is in a state of crisis. I sense genuine fear among traders for their livelihoods."
Councillor Andrew Carter, council leader, said 250,000 would be spent on the market this year.
He acknowledged the need for an advertising campaign and pointed out the council had introduced a number of relief and business support schemes to help traders and others.
Coun Barry Anderson (Con, Adel and Wharfedale) said claims that more and more stalls were closing were misleading: over the past 12 months 39 new traders and set up in the market while 37 had left.
The council agreed a resolution that said it would do all in its power to encourage growth in Kirkgate Market.
But Liz Laughton, who chairs the Leeds branch of the National Federation of MarKet Traders, said: "I don't think they grasp the problem. It's unfair that long-standing traders pay high rents while people coming in are offered free rents. When the free rents come to an end those people disappear."