In five years' time, the wages of footballers such as Jermaine Pennant will be a quarter of what they are today, a Midland football academic has predicted.
Professor Ellis Cashmore, who teaches culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University, believes football clubs will soon refuse to pay out tens of thousands of pounds per week to their young prodigies.
He said: "I think Britain could be approaching a crisis similar to that of the US and Canadian Hockey League. All their games for one season were cancelled because the players were demanding more money than the clubs had.
"In five years' time, the salaries of top football players could be a quarter just so that our clubs survive."
Prof Cashmore also predicted that footballers who flouted the law would be treated more harshly in the future because judges are not prepared just to allow players to pay their way of out trouble."