English Premier League side Cardiff City may sue Nantes for negligence if an official report finds out that Emiliano Sala was flown to his death by a pilot who did not have the correct licence.
Cardiff already find themselves involved in a legal tussle with French side over whether they are contractually obliged to pay a transfer fee for the Argentinean striker, who died without playing a game for the Welsh side.
Sala had signed for Cardiff for a club record £15 million ($19 million) and was flying to join his new team when his plane went missing over the English Channel on January 21.
The wreckage was located on the seabed. Sala’s body was recovered but pilot David Ibbotson is still missing. The aircraft remains under the sea.
Details of how Sala died, and who was responsible, could be clarified in the coming days by Britain’s Air Accidents Investigations Bureau, which had previously said it intended to publish an interim report into the crash within a month of it occurring.
British Sunday Telegraph said an internal Cardiff inquiry had found no evidence that Ibbotson held the licence necessary to carry passengers on a commercial basis.
If the AAIB report upholds this view, it may constitute the basis for a claim of negligence against whoever recruited Ibbotson as the pilot for Sala’s flight.
Agents Willie and Mark McKay have said they arranged Sala’s flight but did not select the plane or pilot. The pair had been working for Nantes.
A successful negligence claim against Nantes would reduce the transfer fee that Cardiff City owed the French club.
And that payment could decrease further if Cardiff can show that Emiliano Sala’s transfer was incomplete at the time of his death because he had not yet been registered to play in the Premier League.
“We believe that the player was not registered with the Premier League,” Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman told the Telegraph.
Sala was buried in his hometown of Progreso in Argentina on Saturday, with Cardiff manager Neil Warnock and club executive Ken Choo among the mourners