Shelley and Gray emerge as Gypsies 'wind up' duo
A protracted guessing game came to an end yesterday when Brian Shelley and Steven Gray were confirmed as the two Bohemians players seeking to have the club wound up due to non-payment of wages.
The duo instructed their solicitor, Stuart Gilhooly, to lodge the petition in the High Court and he has officially set those wheels in motion.
Now, all parties will wait for the requisite legal channels to set an initial court date, with Gilhooly stating last night that the players would not be swayed by the suggestion that Bohs would be in a position to make an offer next week.
Bohs officials say they intend to make a collective approach to the entire group of 10 players who remain under contract to the club and are due almost seven weeks' wages.
They are believed to have some cash available, but it's unclear how much they will be able to release up front as it's understood the Dublin club must wait until they pass licensing requirements next month before they can fully release funds raised over the past couple of months.
The prospect of waiting for another couple of weeks has been rejected by Shelley and Gray, who have run out of patience with the Dalymount Park authorities and proceeded with the winding-up order on the basis that the club is unable to pay its debts.
Shelley's situation has proved to be a source of confusion over the past number of days. The 29-year-old defender is in Norway today with a group of Irish professionals looking to impress watching scouts with a view to securing new employment. Other contracted Bohs players didn't make that journey.
A statement from Gilhooly denied reports from Australia claiming that Shelley had agreed to join a Victoria-based club named Ballarat Red Devils from the beginning of February.
"Brian has not agreed any deal to sign for Ballarat Red Devils," said Gilhooly.
"Furthermore, he has not spoken to any media, Australian or otherwise, about this club and the quotes attributed to him are entirely false.
"He remains contracted to Bohemians Football Club and will remain at the club until his contract expires or until the club makes such offer of settlement of his contract that is acceptable to him.
"In common with nearly all other Bohemians players, he has not been paid on foot of his contract in nearly seven weeks. As a result and without prejudice to the terms of his contract, Bohemians have given permission for him to speak to other clubs."
Shelley joined Bohs from Drogheda United after the Louth club fell on hard times, and has been a mainstay of Pat Fenlon's side over the past two seasons.
Gray is another ex-Drogheda player, who was with Derry City before making the move to Phibsborough last winter. The big defender spent the majority of last season on the sidelines due to injury.
Other members of the dressing-room shied away from going down the legal route and returned to training under Fenlon this week, although there is no guarantee they will have a future at Dalymount Park.
However, Shelley and Gray's representatives argue that the pair cannot afford to go any longer without payment, and are entitled to pursue their case. They also insist that the club have money in the bank to pay some of the money in arrears.
"I spoke to people who gave the funds," declared PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness, who refused to confirm that this was a reference to the FAI.
"They've got help from everyone within the game. I am 100pc sure that Bohemians are in funds to resolve the issue. They seem to want the players to push the club the next step. They've forced the players down this road.
"Staff have been paid, everyone else at the club has been at the club over Christmas, but our members are seven weeks outstanding. The supporters of the club need to vent any anger they have at their board."
Nevertheless, both Shelley and Gray are aware there will be a backlash if the legal action puts their employers in a perilous position.