Shane Smeltz could be in for a long stint on the sidelines if the Chinese club he walked out on have anything to say about it.
The All Whites striker walked out on his two year contract with Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng on Saturday.
Former Wellington Phoenix boss Tony Pignata believes Smeltz has put himself in a vulnerable position by walking out on his contract and returning to Australia as the club could go to FIFA and have Smeltz banned for two years, although that is unlikely.
Pignata wants Shandong to resolve the issue quickly to find a replacement, but believes the issue should blow over and allow everyone involved to move on.
No club wants a player who does not want to be there, so in the end Shandong will have to give up and he expects Smeltz to return to Gold Coast United, he said.
However, a Shandong spokesman says the club is livid and expects Smeltz to honour his contract.
The Players Football Association has refused to comment on the situation.
They are currently working on the case on behalf of Smeltz.