Essendon are likely to play finals and immediate Supreme Court action looks doubtful after the AFL offered to delay next Monday's hearing for bringing the game into disrepute.
Coach James Hird's lawyers had set the AFL a 5pm deadline yesterday to meet demands which included establishing an independent tribunal to hear charges relating to the club's 2012 supplements program.
The AFL didn't meet those demands, but said it was willing to grant extra time to prepare a defence if required.
Adelaide were granted extra time before last year's Kurt Tippett draft-tampering hearing.
The AFL charged Essendon, Hird, football operations general manager Danny Corcoran, club doctor Bruce Reid and senior assistant coach Mark Thompson last week, and scheduled the hearing for August 26.
If the case was heard next Monday, it would be just four days before the final round starts, meaning a guilty finding would have enabled the AFL to prevent Essendon from playing finals. Now, any penalties for a guilty verdict will extend into next year.
Neither the league nor Essendon confirmed that extra time had been requested or granted and no new date has been set, suggesting a hearing could still take place in an abbreviated format.
The AFL and clubs have rarely met in court. Sydney's Andrew Dunkley played in the 1996 grand final after a court allowed his tribunal hearing to be delayed.
And dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams challenged a ban for pushing an umpire in 1997 in the Victorian Supreme Court.
Thompson said he did not know when the case be heard.
"I'm not sure what the consequences are - we don't have to turn up," he told Fox Footy's AFL 360.
"It's not off, we have to go some time. Who knows where it's going to go? Every day is an adventure."
Thompson said he had read the charge sheet issued by the AFL and was not guilty of 90 per cent of the allegations.
He also revealed Reid had employed specialist medical lawyers and was "very, very confident" of being cleared.
In a sign of how much pressure Essendon are under, Thompson said he did little football work last week after being charged.
Hird was also spending less time coaching the team because of his legal preparations.
Thompson said that he had expected to avoid charges.
"I was quite angry at being charged and quite disappointed that it's happened," he said.
"But very willing to fight and take it anywhere as long as we can go. We don't want that on our name."
The Bombers were in second place after round 17 but have since slipped to seventh, losing to Hawthorn, Collingwood, West Coast and North Melbourne.
"I was quite angry at being charged and quite disappointed … We don't want that on our name."" Essendon senior assistant coach *Mark Thompson *