Cardiff begins legal action over Sala transfer

A Cardiff spokesperson said that the club will present the findings of its investigation into Emiliano Sala's death to the Nantes public prosecutor's office.

Emiliano Sala was killed when the small plane taking him to join Cardiff crashed off the Channel island of Guernsey.   -  Getty Images

Cardiff City has made a legal complaint in a French court to “fully understand” the events surrounding the air crash death of Emiliano Sala, the Championship club told AFP on Tuesday.

Argentine Sala was killed just over a year ago when the small plane taking him to join Cardiff after being bought from French side FC Nantes for £15 million ($19.5 million, 17.6 million euros) crashed off the Channel island of Guernsey.

In a statement, a Cardiff spokesperson said to AFP that it has carried out its own investigation into the 28-year-old's death and was presenting its findings to the Nantes public prosecutor's office.

Its action was also aimed at answering “the wider questions that have been highlighted in this case, specifically related to the use of illegal flights in the football industry and the role of intermediaries in player transfers,” the spokesperson said.

“As a result of our investigation we believe there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing that necessitates investigation by the French authorities of those responsible for the arrangement of the transfer on behalf of FC Nantes and for arranging the doomed flight.”

The circumstances of the crash are murky and the aftermath has seen a bitter dispute between Ligue 1 club Nantes and Cardiff, in particular over the payment of the transfer fee.

There were questions over the suitability of the plane, the qualifications of the 59-year-old pilot, David Ibbotson and the decision to hire both.

The flight was arranged by another pilot, David Henderson, at the request of football agents Willie McKay and his son Mark, who were representing Nantes.

In September, football's world governing body FIFA ordered Cardiff to pay the first six million euro instalment of the transfer fee. But the Welsh club has taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision is not expected until June.

On Tuesday Cardiff's legal representatives said that they wanted to know more about Nantes' role in the organisation of the fatal flight.

A source at Nantes told AFP that it was “amazed” at Cardiff's actions, slamming the Welsh club for “exploiting the tragedy and running away from its responsibilities”.

The club had paid an emotional tribute to the striker ahead of its 1-0 home defeat to Bordeaux at the weekend.

“We are outraged at this new media offensive just days after the commemorations for Sala,” added the source.