LAWYERS representing the Melbourne Football Club and former coach Dean Bailey are dissecting a whopping 800 pages of evidence, and all but vowing to take the AFL to court if found guilty of allegations of tanking.
The Demons board, chief executive Cameron Schwab, Chris Connolly – the former football manager still working at the club – and Bailey, must show reason by the end of the month to interim AFL football operations manager Gillon McLachlan as to why they should not be charged.
The detailed and explosive documents fill two folders and were handed to all parties on the eve of Christmas.
As tension between those facing sanctions and the AFL increases, it has emerged that Bailey is facing three allegations: bringing the game into disrepute, tampering with the national draft, and not coaching to his utmost in 2009.
Schwab and Connolly are facing charges of bringing the game into disrepute and tampering with the draft.
The documents are said to show that Brock McLean, the former Melbourne player now at Carlton, has backtracked on several of the statements he made on Fox Footy's On the Couch, the interview in July that sparked the investigation.
The Demons and Bailey have engaged separate lawyers.
All parties have questioned the manner in which interviews were conducted by AFL integrity officers Brett Clothier and Abraham Haddad. It's understood several of those interviewed felt they were pressured into making statements, or "verballed" in legal speak, with lawyers of the opinion that the line of questioning would not stand up in court.
Lawyers will also argue over the definition of tanking, and question why other clubs have not been targeted.
"The way the investigation has been carried out from a legal point of view is quite extraordinary, with some of the questioning," a source close to the Demons said.
"There potentially could be a good challenge to the AFL rules. I think it's fairly fraught with danger the AFL going down this path."
Asked if Supreme Court action was a strong possibility if the Demons were found guilty by the league, the source said: "I think there is some chance it will."
Demons president Don McLardy has vowed to fight any charge.
Bailey, now an assistant coach with Adelaide, is under immense stress and fears his career could be cut short if found guilty.
He almost blew the whistle on the claims at his farewell press conference in 2011 after he was sacked. But those close to the Demons believe Schwab and Connolly are atop the AFL's investigation.
The Demons have engaged former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein to lead their case.
It's understood Finkelstein has an intricate knowledge of the AFL's laws, as he played a key role in the rewriting of these in the 1990s.
The Demons were accused of tanking in 2009 in a bid to secure the top two picks of the national draft. The documents allege a secret meeting involving at least 15 members of the club's football department was held at the Junction Oval in which coaches were reminded of the importance of forfeiting matches to gain early draft picks.
Connolly addressed the 2009 meeting, which was code-named "the vault".
Schwab is being investigated for alleged incriminating conversations with coaches.
The Demons won only four matches that season, with successive defeats to Sydney in round 17 and to Richmond raising suspicions.
McLean, asked in July whether the Demons had tanked, said: "Definitely, and I think you would have to be blind Freddy to not figure that one out."