The salaries of players in the Premiership have climbed by 65 per cent since 2000 to an all-time high, a new survey reveals.
The average player in the top flight now earns £676,000 basic pay, which represents a rise from the approximate £410,000 which clubs paid their stars six years ago.
The survey, conducted by The Independent and the Professional Footballers' Association, reveals strikers are the best-paid players in the Premiership on an average £806,000, with goalkeepers the relative paupers on an annual £533,000. Bonuses vary and are on top of the basic salary.
Almost 400 players across the spectrum of Premiership and Football League participated in the survey, which also uncovered details of earnings in the lower leagues.
Championship stars received an average of £195,750 (up 53 per cent), League One players earned £67,850 (up 24 per cent) and League Two footballers were paid £49,600 (up 28 per cent).
The study reveals how Premiership players typically reach their earnings peak between the ages of 27 and 28.
That age group sees earnings of £899,500 on average, falling to £586,000 for the 31-32 age group.
Premiership youngsters do not earn nearly as much. According to the survey, 17 to 18-year-olds pocket £24,500, rising to £95,500 for 19 to 20-year-olds.
Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, however, believes wages paid to players is relative to their status.
Gartside opposes a salary cap to limit wages - and he highlighted the wide spectrum of earning among players.
'You look at players in our team; you get a very varied mix of salaries and bonuses,' Gartside said on Sky Sports News.
'I think the salary cap would be a difficult one to impose and I've never been in favour of that. I think self-regulation is the best way if possible.
'As far as players are concerned, they are entertainers. You look at the top entertainers, whether they are pop stars or actors, and salaries are relative.
'I think people are getting more realistic, and that has been reflected in the financial results of the clubs.
'Over 50 per cent of the clubs in the Premier League will show profit this year which is good news. At Bolton, we've had our third year of profit.'