Cardiff Blues have confirmed that Wales centre Jamie Roberts will leave the region at the end of the season with reports in the Welsh press suggesting he will join Racing Metro.
Blues chief executive Richard Holland has admitted that the British and Irish Lions centre rejected a contract renewal and is now set to join the growing number of Welsh internationals in France.
"The offer we made to Jamie was an extremely attractive one and would have seen him become certainly the highest paid player in the Blues squad, and arguably in the UK," said Holland.
"As a business, we simply don't have the resource to compete with the offers that Jamie has received.
"Naturally we are disappointed that Jamie has decided to leave the region, but we wish him the best of luck with his career.
"Given news of Jamie's departure, we will begin the search to find a suitable marquee player who will be eligible to play for us throughout the entire season."
Despite continued warnings from the Welsh national set up that foreign-based players may be overlooked in the future, 25-year-old Roberts, who has made 81 appearances for the Blues, is set join Test team-mates Gethin Jenkins, Mike Phillips, James Hook, Lee Byrne and Luke Charteris in the Top 14.
Roberts is a product of the Blues Academy and represented the region at age grade level before stepping up to play for Cardiff RFC in 2005-06, scoring and impressive five tries in 11 games. A medical student at Cardiff University, Roberts will sit his final exams during the 2013 Six Nations tournament.
"We have invested a lot of time, money and effort developing Jamie as a rugby player from an early age after identifying him as a star of the future, " added Cardiff Blues Chairman Peter Thomas.
"We have stuck by him through thick and thin and supported him during last season when he only completed two matches for the Blues because of his knee injury and international duties, playing 15 matches for Wales.
"It is impossible for the Welsh regions to compete with the kind of money that is on offer from other clubs in other countries.
"The time has come that the Welsh benefactors should not be responsible for funding the professional game.
"The chairman of the regions can guide companies but if we want to keep Jamie Roberts and other international players in Wales then the governing body has to intervene.
"The player drain out of Wales, which has a negative impact on the Welsh regions and the national team, will only continue without increased funding from the governing body.
"As an example with our recent game against Leinster, the IRFU pay for fourteen of their players and additionally fund the province for the remaining players in excess of 4 million euros. Compared to the cost of the Cardiff Blues squad that's almost double.
"You'll never win the Heineken Cup with that margin to compete with.
"The governing body has to take far more responsibility."