West Bromwich Albion chief Dan Ashworth admits the spending needed to finish in the top eight far outweighs the financial rewards.
Ashworth has asked fans if there is a difference between finishing in the top or bottom half of the table.
He admitted: "To guarantee you could have a chance of finishing eighth, you would have to spend a colossal figure.
"You have to measure that against the potential financial returns as well as the sporting ones because otherwise you can go the way of a Portsmouth.
"In money terms, I'm afraid, the return you get for coming eighth is nothing like the outlay you need to make and that is why the Premier League has settled into being a league within a league.
"The reality is a club like us would need to spend somewhere in the region of £30million to have a hope of finishing eighth on a regular basis and it might cost you more than that."
Ashworth added: "Does finishing eighth also represent success to the fans, especially if you do it three years on the run?
"I'm genuinely interested whether to a supporter there is a real difference between finishing eighth and 11th. Roy Hodgson has said we need to aspire to the status of an Everton and we want to reach a point where relegation is something that's never an issue.
"But does it matter to a fan if you finish eighth or 11th?"