Oxford United and the 71 other Football League clubs yesterday decided to introduce a salary cap for the 2012-3 season.

At a meeting of the Football League chairmen in Cyprus, attended by United’s chief Kelvin Thomas, it was agreed that League One and Two clubs will not be permitted to spend more than 55 per cent of their turnover on player wages.

Championship teams will only be allowed to spend what they earn on salaries.

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.

If the clubs break the rules, the first sanction will be a transfer ban.

Serial transgressors will face more points deductions.

The agreement was hailed by Football League chairman Greg Clarke.

He said: “This could be a seminal event that reshapes football finances in England.

“The clubs are aware of the ground-breaking decision they have taken and we will work hard now to make it happen.”

Debt in Football League clubs now totals £700m 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.

Clarke added: “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.”