Sydney FC say they will not entertain a move for Dwight Yorke under any circumstances after chairman Andrew Kemeny insisted the club was not interested in securing the services of its former skipper.
A British newspaper report yesterday added further fuel to the fire with the claim Sunderland manager Roy Keane would allow Yorke to find a new club in the January transfer window.
However, Kemeny issued a categorical "no" when asked yesterday if Sydney were interested in signing Yorke, adding that the supposed meeting between agent and club never took place.
"I think Dwight should probably be looking at coaching nowadays or something else at age 37," Kemeny said. "I wasn't in Sydney on Friday but I don't think there would have been a meeting without my knowledge.
"There's nothing personal against Dwight. I think he's a lovely bloke. But we need to be looking at continuing our policy of developing our own youth and I suggest that should also apply to other clubs as well."
Yorke has made four appearances for Sunderland since signing a one-year deal in July, with the striker-turned-midfielder raising the ire of Keane for his ongoing international commitments with Trinidad and Tobago.
Kemeny said Sydney FC were interested in bringing in big-name imports but insisted that players capable of contributing over several seasons would be the focus of future recruiting drives.
"If somebody comes along at a reasonable price, we'll consider it. But look what has happened to the other teams who have brought in marquee players and overseas imports. I'm not naming names, but even with the best of intentions, it's a risky undertaking," he said.
Sydney will lose the likes of Jacob Timpano, Robbie Middleby and Brendon Santalab to North Queensland next season as well as Iain Fyfe, who is understood to have agreed to join Adelaide United. Skipper Tony Popovic has already retired and Steve Corica may follow, but Kemeny said the club won't be looking at short-term fixes.
"We need to conserve our financial resources and direct it towards medium- to long-term goals, not Band-Aid solutions that will see us through the next couple of weeks," he said.
"If I was looking at an overseas player, I would be looking at a different kind of player, a younger player, certainly someone who can virtually guarantee a big contribution on the football field, with maybe a lesser commercial value.
"Football is a compromise. You've got to have certain policies, in my book, and I can't speak for my predecessors, but I'm looking at the well-being of Sydney FC for this season and beyond."
Kemeny echoed the sentiments of coach John Kosmina from last week in regards to youth development, which has recently emerged as one of the club's highest priorities.
Indeed, Sydney's youth team sits atop the National Youth League after six matches, having won every game so far this year, capped by a 3-0 battering of Perth Glory at the weekend.
"Next year, we'll probably have the youngest team of any in the league," Kemeny said. "We have some tremendous young talent in our youth team, and in Steve O'Connor we have the best youth coach in Australia, if not in the southern hemisphere. This is our strategy for going forward."