Crossing swords: Dustin Martin may face a fine for this gesture after kicking a goal on Sunday.

Crossing swords: Dustin Martin caused controversy for this so-called 'prison sign' celebration earlier this month. Photo: Mal Fairclough

Amid the so-called ''conflicting stories'' doing the rounds regarding Dustin Martin and his relationship breakdown with the Richmond Football Club lies the simple fact that this situation is a complete mess.

For all his explosive talent, Martin is trouble. 

And the reason for that mess is crystal clear. While the best possible scenario for Martin would be for him to remain at Punt Road, the best scenario for Damien Hardwick and his young team is for the Tigers to let him go.

Some Tiger fans will take the news hard.

Some Tiger fans will take the news hard. Photo: Getty Images

Richmond has withdrawn its two-year offer to the troubled Martin, believed to be worth at least $1 million, having lost patience with the stalling of his manager Ralph Carr and in the belief it had added more than enough during the past month to earlier offers.

Richmond's new football operations boss Dan Richardson must try to negotiate the best possible outcome for the club having vowed to alter the Tigers' disproportionate payment structure. For years that has seen players over-compensated financially for staying at a club which now offers better conditions, facilities and hopefully more big games, such as the one against Carlton at the MCG nine days ago.

For all his explosive talent, Martin is trouble. His chequered off-field history does not bode well for a football club working to transform its culture and create a professional DNA which does not include drug and alcohol-induced absences from training nor, for that matter, players inviting high-profile crime figures into the club's inner sanctum.

Richmond has not only protected Martin from so many of the more insidious stories that continue to accompany him, but has pleaded with the media to make allowances for his fragility. The club has had him living with outgoing president Gary March and his family, allowed its young captain Trent Cotchin to take him under his wing during the off-season and enlisted its senior assistant and Port Adelaide premiership coach to spend countless hours focusing on the 22-year-old who grew up in tough circumstances.

Martin has continued his friendship with the expelled bad boy Daniel Connors and only three days ago Martin, with 31-year-old Saint Sam Fisher, watched Connors play in an Essendon District League final for Aberfeldie. Fisher, who has had social issues of his own and was dropped from the Saints leadership group this season, has been warned by St Kilda to cancel his US travel plans with Martin and fellow Saint David Armitage.

It is an indication of the Saints' concerns that coach Scott Watters would urge such a move. Interestingly, Martin arrived at St Kilda's notorious Mad Monday function six days before Richmond's first final at 10pm but departed when he saw media outside. Martin was instrumental in setting up the Tigers' solid first-half against Carlton in the elimination final but marred that with his handcuff gesture and could not fire when required in the second half.

He was not alone in going quiet when Carlton surged but it seems unbelievable that Martin could not afterwards commit to the club that has put so much in place around him to protect him from what must be said is a dysfunctional lifestyle in the context of being a highly-paid professional sportsman.

It is a credit to Hardwick and his club that Martin, despite his controversial and problematic off-season, has played so well in 2013 and should jump some half-a-dozen places in the forthcoming Jack Dyer Medal.

It is a credit to Martin and his prodigious talent too but that does not make him worth more than $500,000 a season. Not with his considerable baggage that is, quite literally, written all over him. But now Richmond has called his bluff and Richardson has made a brave call in the sense that the club could lose him for nothing.

The Tigers' season has ended in relative disaster since the hope of that first bounce at the MCG nine days ago. Those tens of thousands of fans who turned up to watch the Tigers blow a five-goal lead against a side that finished ninth deserved better. Those sponsors and members who have jumped on board in record numbers deserve better than a player big-noting with bike bosses in front of his younger teammates. And club chiefs like March and Brendon Gale who have worked to resurrect Richmond deserve better than what Martin and his management have dished up.

At some point you just have to cut your losses. Not to mention negotiate the best possible trade from the club prepared to take a punt on Dustin Martin.