Ryan Griffiths has left Newcastle Jets and signed for Chinese second-tier club Beijing Baxy, after requesting an early release from his contract with the A-League club.
Griffiths had been left out of Newcastle's squad to take on Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday with the Jets claiming it was for 'personal reasons' but it has now been confirmed the 31-year-old striker will return to China for the second time in his career.
Newcastle Jets CEO Robbie Middleby did not deny Griffith's departure would hurt the team on the field, but claimed the club understands the forward's decision, which is all about financial security.
His contract had been set to expire at the end of the 2013/14 campaign.
"It is disappointing to lose a player like Ryan but we didn't want to stand in his way when making this move was important for his family," Middleby said on Tuesday.
"Any transfer decision is case-by-case, and as Ryan has been weighing up a move to China for some time, we understand his decision.
"Ryan has been a great player for the club and we wish him well at Beijing Baxy."
Griffiths will leave Newcastle immediately and line-up with Beijing Baxy, who are second-bottom in China League One, the second tier of Chinese football.
Having previously played for Chinese Super League clubs Beijing Guoan and Liaoning Whowin, Griffiths will be returning to an environment he is familiar with, but the five-time Australian international said it was still not an easy decision.
"I love this club and town but I needed to consider my young family and do what is best for them, and right now that is going to play in China," Griffiths said.
"I will always appreciate the management of the Jets for supporting me at this point in my career."
Griffith's departure will undoubtedly hurt the Jets as they chase a spot in the A-League finals, with the striker having scored nine goals and set up another five for Gary van Egmond's team this season.
Craig Goodwin and Marko Jesic have been promoted to Newcastle's squad for Wednesday's game in Wellington as possible replacements for Griffiths.