Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie has called for realism after Kevin Keegan admitted defeat in competing with the 'big four'.
Newcastle United boss Keegan bemoaned the 'massive gulf' between the top four sides and the rest of the top flight after his side lost 2-0 to Chelsea on Monday.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool will make up the Premier League's top four for the third season running.
Storrie admits that it is a tough ask for sides to compete with the league's dominant clubs, but has challenged Portsmouth and their rivals to build over the years to come.
"I think you have to be realistic in the game now. It is very, very difficult for any side to break into the top four for some years," he told Sky Sports News.
"But in my opinion there is a good league between fifth and ninth place - that is where we have got to be each season.
"You have always got to keep going and get better and better. If you stand still you will go further down the league.
"It is about clever investment. I you need to spend wisely. In [Portsmouth boss] Harry [Redknapp], we have someone who can find the right players for us."
Meanwhile, Sylvain Distin, who joined Pompey on a free transfer last summer after his contract at Manchester City expired, has beamed at what he considers to be the best season of his career.
He told The News: 'I've settled down pretty quickly with the team. The changing room has a great atmosphere; the players have helped a lot and the staff also.
"Performance wise, this has been my best season. I actually think I am more consistent. I have had maybe one or two difficult games but altogether I think I have been more consistent than in the past.
"I am at the point in my career when I'm not waiting for anything. I'm not playing for any top-four club so I don't have the pressure like you feel you have to succeed."