Premier League footballers took home £2.5bn in wages for the first time last season, though pay growth was at its weakest for 20 years when compared with surging club revenues.
According to an annual review of top clubs' finances, players' collective salaries rose 9% during the 2016/17 campaign while club revenues were up 25%.
The report, by Deloitte's sports business group, said the 20 teams raked in £4.5bn - a rise of nearly £1bn on 2015/16 - mainly thanks to new broadcast rights deals kicking in which included the £5.1bn domestic package shared between Sky (Frankfurt: 893517 - news) , the owner of Sky News, and BT.
It meant, the study said, that the wage to revenue ratio was at its lowest level since 1997/98 - at 55%.
It had stood at 63% in the previous year.
Deloitte partner, Dan Jones, said of the shift: "As predicted last year, the Premier League's three-year broadcast deals which came into effect in the 2016/17 season helped drive revenue to record levels.
"Despite wages increasing by 9% to £2.5bn, this increase is nowhere near the level of revenue growth noted.
"This relative restraint from Premier League clubs reflects both the extent of their financial advantage over other leagues and the impact of domestic and European cost control measures."
It said the weaker rise in pay helped clubs score healthy operating and pre-tax profits.
The number-crunchers found they made a collective pre-tax profit of £500m - almost three times the previous record of £200m in 2013/14.
Operating profits - which strip out the effects of one-off costs - doubled to £1bn.
It said all 20 clubs in the league that season - when Chelsea claimed the title - made an operating profit and more details would be available in June when the full report was due.
Deloitte, which also produces data on transfer window spending by clubs, said the current broadcast deal had enabled teams to spend a record £1.9bn on transfers in the 2017/18 season just concluding.
Senior (Other OTC: SNIRF - news) consultant Tim Bridge said: "We may again see similar levels of spending in the coming season, with the FIFA World Cup providing the perfect shop window for talent, but expenditure remains well within the means of clubs."