Bristol City owner Stephen Lansdown says he is no longer willing to pay excessive player wages after spending an 'embarrassing' £50m on the club.
City were relegated from the Championship last season and posted a record loss of £14.4m in 2012.
The backing of billionaire Lansdown, 60, means they are not in financial difficulty, but he is determined to make the club more sustainable.
"I'm embarrassed by how much I've spent," Lansdown told BBC Points West.
"I daren't add it up, and although I have no regrets in doing it, it's probably over £50m.
"We started paying out bigger wages because we felt we needed that extra class, and it hasn't worked for us.
"I look back and it was a mistake."
Lansdown, a Bristol-born businessman who made his fortune in financial services, first became involved at Ashton Gate in 1996.
He replaced John Laycock as chairman in 2002, and financed the club in their bid to secure promotion to the Premier League.
Former manager Gary Johnson took the club to within one game of reaching the top flight in the 2007-08 season, only to lose the play-off final 1-0 to Hull at Wembley.
They spent a club-record fee of £2.25m on Crewe youngster Nicky Maynard that summer, and went on to sign high-wage players such as former England goalkeeper David James.
Since their play-off appearance, however, City have failed to finish higher than 10th in the Championship and dropped back down to League One after finishing bottom last term.
And in four years they have accumulated losses of £41m and had a wage bill of £18m in 2012.
"In the last few years we've got it completely wrong and that's been a disappointment," added Lansdown, who stepped down as chairman in 2011.
"We got ourselves up into the Championship, did pretty well to start with, and then we got it wrong.
"We've slipped back to League One and now we have to start again. But start again we will and we're going to learn the lessons from the mistakes we made."
The arrival of head coach Sean O'Driscoll has sparked a change of attitude within the club, which has been backed by Lansdown and his son, Jon, now managing director.
The club must work within the Football League's financial fair play rules next season, which state League One clubs must limit their wage and fee bill to 60% of their turnover.
And O'Driscoll has set out his vision of investing in youth players and making use of their academy system in order to build a squad.
"We must now work within our means," said Lansdown.
"We've now got ourselves in a situation where we are going to support the academy and get the right recruitment.
"The mission statement is there: we will develop and grow and won't spend excessive money on wages going forward.
"To me, the satisfaction over the next few years will be seeing our players develop and grow with us, and maybe have our own international players at some point."