Where second-tier clubs received around £8m in television income in 2020-21, Premier League clubs shared more than £2.5bn.
It is a huge problem not just for Sheffield United, who had two top-flight seasons from 2019 and are again trying to catch teams now off into the distance, but also Leeds United, having to slash their cloth after Premier League relegation.
Leeds receive parachute payments to avoid a repeat of the financial catastrophe when they dropped out of a massively less lucrative top division in 2004. Football League chairman Rick Parry calls them "an evil that must be eradicated" as they skew competition but relegated clubs would fold without them.
The scale of the task was spelt out to Blades chief executive Stephen Bettis when a relegation rival offered two unwanted players.
"They told me their wages and we don't have one player on what those two are earning," said Bettis in his annual debrief with local media including The Yorkshire Post.
"Their club didn't want them, they were not in the manager's plans (both have left) but were earning significantly more than the highest-paid player at our club.
"It hit home how big the gap is. I don't know how you close it."
The three promoted clubs make up the early bottom four with woefully mismanaged Everton.
As the Blades mind the gap, spending just over £50m on seven permanent signings (plus three loans) in a summer where seven clubs paid more for one player, Leeds have found making the jump in the opposite direction painful.
"The vehemence that the players don’t want to play in the Championship has absolutely surprised me," admitted chief executive Angus Kinnear, reflecting on Leeds' summer exodus with The Square Ball. "It’s about the profile of the Premier League. It’s about the money paid.
“We thought we could convince them this was a great project, that playing in the Championship and tearing it up for a season would be good for their careers.
“I’ve been naive about it but it’s been brutally disappointing at how we’ve seen players crawl over broken glass to leave our club."
Leeds' only significant sale was £24m Tyler Adams to Bournemouth. The Cherries – who picked off Luis SInisterra on loan and beat Leeds to Max Aarons – were the world’s fourth biggest spenders in 2023 despite gates just over 10,000.
The Yorkshire duo often shopped in the same markets but the Blades bought Cameron Archer and Gustavo Hamer and loaned Luke Thomas.
"In the Championship it's actually really difficult to spend (big) money," argues Kinnear.
"Take Gustavo Hamer or (Viktor) Gyokeres at Coventry or Cameron Archer at Aston Villa – we were very confident in our ability to fight off Leicester or Southampton but lost out to Premier League sides (or Sporting Lisbon for Gyokeres).
"It's depressing to lose players to Bournemouth or to Sheffield United. Leeds United probably have more chance to be in the Premier League more regularly over the next five years than Sheffield United but the fact we're not at the moment was a problem to those players."
The Blades have to prepare for failure this season.
"There are 12 teams that could go down every season," reasons Kinnear. "Each have a fairly equal chance so your chances are 25 per cent. Over three to four years there's a chance the bullet is going to be in your barrel of the revolver so you have to plan to sustain a relegation."
Any prudently-run club outside the top eight – and Leeds' noughties experience might suggest inside it too – need relegation clauses.
"When you start negotiating with players and agents you say, 'It's this if we get relegated,' they say, 'We're not taking a (wage) drop,'" says Bettis. "I don't think it cost us any players this window but we can't not have it.
"Clubs like Rangers and Celtic are maybe paying a little less than us in the Premier League but don't need relegation clauses."
Manager Michael Beale has dropped heavy hints that Rangers were outbid for £5m Auston Trusty – yet to play a minute of Premier League football for the Blades.
It is only three years since the Blades were last in the division, four since they finished ninth. Bettis can see the change.
"I feel it's noticeably different although I don't know if that's partly because the first time we went up, like everyone I was just excited," he admits. “When we got promoted last time I celebrated for about a month, I didn't even celebrate us getting promoted this time, it was just relief.
"The money's started filtering down to the Brightons because they're selling players to Chelsea.
"What realistic expectation can you have unless we can stay in for four or five years?"
It is a sign English football's model is broken. Signs of it being fixed are harder to spot.