Football League clubs today voted to adopt Uefa's financial fair play system where teams can only spend what they earn.
Increasing levels of debt and a drop in television income has seen the 72 clubs agree to the system "in principle" at the league's annual meeting in Cyprus.
Football League chairman Greg Clarke said: "This is a very important step forward for professional football as it will help our clubs exert greater control over their finances.
"Much more work needs to be done, but I am hugely encouraged and impressed by the energy and focus of our clubs on this issue.
"They have been the catalyst for change and have shown a real desire to self-regulate in this area. I congratulate them on taking this bold step."
The Championship clubs aim to have the Uefa model taking effect next year in time for the start of the 2012/13 season.
The clubs in all three divisions voted in favour of developing the "rigorous new measures" following a presentation by Andrea Traverso, Uefa's head of club licensing and financial fair play.
League One clubs also agreed to introduce a 'salary cap' from the start of the coming season where teams will only be allowed to spend a fixed proportion of their total turnover on player wages.
The system, called the Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP), currently operates in League Two at a 60% threshold, and this will be reduced to 55% next season.
Uefa's financial fair play system for clubs in European competition will come into effect from 2014 and the Football League's announcement means almost all teams in the four divisions will be covered by spending constraints.
Although the Premier League have not adopted the measures, 19 of the 20 top-flight clubs - all apart from Blackpool - applied for a Uefa licence last season and so would have to pass the financial fair play criteria.
The Football League's move reflects concern over income - the their new £195million domestic TV deal is a 26% drop on the previous one.
Debt in Football League clubs now totals £700million and a report this week by analysts Deloitte found that more than one third of clubs are paying out more in wages than they received in revenue.
FA chairman David Bernstein said the Football League's announcement was "encouraging".
Bernstein said: "I welcome the Football League's new cost control measures. The FA supports these regulations and they are a welcome step in the right direction.
"While giving evidence at the Select Committee in March, [FA general secretary] Alex Horne and I called for such measures.
"These new FL regulations are very encouraging, and I would like to congratulate Greg Clarke and all at the Football League for their continued progress in this area."