Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has disregarded the grievances of A-League rivals about to lose talent to the Olyroos, declaring the competition is not about player development.
Several clubs, the players' union and Football Federation Australia have been embroiled in a scrap over this month's under-23 Asian Championship in China, a tournament that does not act as Olympics qualifiers but will rule out some of the league's brightest young talent - many of them regular starters - for the season's busiest period.
Even though the tournament sits outside FIFA international windows, an arbitration last Friday found in favour of FFA's right to pick A-League players, much to the disgust of their clubs who complained the decision did not fall into line with FIFA's global statutes.
Days after Central Coast Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth issued a warning the ruling would discourage the development of young players in favour of journeymen, Arnold said the league shouldn't be about development anyway.
Sydney and Brisbane are the only Australian clubs not affected, and Arnold indicated he had deliberately recruited to ensure his title-winning squad would not be raided by international call-ups.
"Because I was maybe the only coach who looked at the international programme before the season started," Arnold said.
"I don't understand what the fuss is about.
"I did hear a comment about the young players going, but I didn't know the A-League was a development league.
"There's been a lot of talk around the senior players because of the international windows but I don't see the A-League as a development league.
"It's a meaningful competition in which clubs expect to win trophies."
Arnold is well known for nurturing and getting the best out of youngsters, as he did when he led the Mariners to the 2012-13 championship.
But he said that was more a matter of circumstance than choice.
"I worked at the Mariners with kids because that's what the budget and the mandate was," Arnold said.
"I won a championship with kids, then sold $6 million of talent for the owner.
"They probably haven't sold one since but they're still getting money."
"At the end of the day I didn't blow up when I lost kids - it's an honour to have them play for their country."
Part of Sydney's remarkable success has been the continuity of Arnold's first XI, the age and experience of which has kept most of the club's young talent out of the squad altogether.
He said they would emerge in the next year.
"At the Mariners they were ready and I'd put a lot of work into them - Rogic, Ryan, Sainsbury, Amini, the list goes on," he said.
"The ones I've got here you'll see in the next 12 months."