Some Premiership football clubs have given up trying to curb players' wages as they chase success on the pitch, according to a new study.
The multi-million pound salaries paid to stars are expected to rise as managers battle for silverware and ignore the financial cost.
Fifty financial directors from clubs across the four professional football leagues and the top two Scottish divisions were questioned for the research.
The poll showed 44 per cent of English Premier League (EPL) financial directors questioned stated their payroll for the first team squad would increase during the coming season, while 56 per cent said it would remain the same.
More than a fifth (22 per cent) of EPL financial directors stated their first team squad would increase, 67 per cent said it would remain the same and 11 per cent replied it would be cut.
The Premiership's top players can earn six-figure sums a week but the payments are dwarfed by the salaries paid to American sports stars from professional baseball or basket leagues who earn tens of millions.
Asked whether they would be reducing their transfer budgets, 44 per cent of EPL financial directors said it would be increased, 33 per cent replied it would remain the same, 11 per cent stated it would be cut, while 11 per cent said their club did had not have a transfer budget.
Just under half (nine) of the Premiership's 20 clubs responded to the anonymous poll commissioned by the Football Industry Group of PKF, a firm of accountants and business advisers.
Ian Gould, head of corporate recovery at PKF in Birmingham said: "The report illustrates the conundrum that club finance directors at all levels face; success on the pitch is key to a health balance sheet but the price of failure is severe.
"Clearly there are a number of clubs in the Premier League with major backing and very deep pockets and it is incredibly difficult for less fashionable clubs to compete either financially or on the pitch.
"Football finances are increasingly becoming a gamble; clubs need to spend more to earn promotion or avoid relegation but they risk upsetting their financial stability if they invest too much or in the wrong players. This problem is likely to get worse with the increase in the value of television rights from the next Sky and Setanta deals."
The study is in contrast to final figures for the 2004/05 football season which revealed that Premiership clubs managed to rein in their wage bills for the first time in the league's history.
The information released in May showed the total wage bills fell by 3.2 per cent - but the top clubs still paid a total of £785 million on salaries.