RESTRICTED free agent Tom Lynch has made official the worst-kept secret in the AFL, telling Gold Coast he wants to leave to join a Victorian club.
Lynch informed the Suns, including his teammates, of his decision on Thursday after returning from Melbourne, where he underwent season-ending knee surgery.
The Suns responded by stripping Lynch of his co-captaincy.
TIGERS, PIES OR HAWKS? Who's in the box seat?
Lynch's contract status has been a major talking point since last year and it is believed Richmond and Collingwood are fighting for his services with Hawthorn also in the mix.
The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent, so can nominate his club of choice and Gold Coast has the right to match.
Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans confirmed Lynch's decision.
"We’ve been in constant dialogue with Tom and his management throughout the year, early last month we had indications that the decision was heading this way and we asked Tom to give us a decision when he returned to the club," Evans said in a statement.
"He returned to the Gold Coast after surgery today and informed us and the playing group of his intent.
"I can confirm that the board, senior members of our football department and the player leadership group share a view that Tom should relinquish his captaincy of the club and therefore his position has been rescinded.
"The club will continue to assist Tom with his rehabilitation from injury, however he won’t be part of the football program for the remainder of the season.
"Tom understands all the mechanics of being a restricted free agent, which ultimately can’t come to a conclusion until October."
In a later interview on Melbourne radio station SEN, Evans said it was an "awkward" situation.
"Things aren't the same today as they were yesterday," he said.
"You can't be the leader of the place if your intention is known that you are going somewhere else."
Evans said Lynch was "nervous and uncomfortable" when breaking the news.
"He said some good things about the club but it's never easy to say that you're going to leave and it's awkward when there are games to go."
On current ladder position, the Suns would receive pick No.3 – the draft choice immediately after their own – if they elect not to match the offer for Lynch.
Along with his club record 254 goals, Lynch has won two best and fairests, in 2015 and 2016 and was named an All Australian in 2016 among his 131 games for the club.