The seemingly never-ending legal feud between Cardiff City and Nantes over the tragic death of Argentinian striker Emiliano Sala in January 2019 is set to take another turn.
The aircraft carrying the forward to Cardiff from Nantes on his way to completing his transfer to Welsh club would crash into the English Channel, near Guernsey. In the years since, his €17m transfer fee has been at the heart of a bitter conflict between the two clubs. FIFA had ordered the club to pay the first instalment worth €6m – a decision for which Cardiff saw their appeal rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Their latest appeal with the Swiss authorities has also been unsuccessful.
Cardiff have now filed a summons with the Nantes commercial court, via their French lawyers Olivier Loizon and Laure-Anne Montigny, according to L’Équipe. Specifically, the Championship side are claiming €100m plus interest in compensation for “losses incurred“. The court hearing will take place on June 22. L’Équipe add that Cardiff are also claiming the first instalment of the transfer back, plus interest, as well as “reputational damage“, taking the total sum to €110m – which could increase if Cardiff are separately made to pay the other transfer instalments.
The Welsh side notably claim that – based on their analysis of expected goals and expected points – Sala’s arrival would have given them the two points necessary to keep the club in Premier League for at least another season. L’Équipe indicate that Cardiff are also critical of the role that agent Willie McKay reportedly played in the transfer, notably in organising the flight in question, while his son Mark held the mandate to sell Sala to a Premier League. For the second-tier club, it was Willie McKay who was truly in charge, even though he could not act as an agent as part of his bankruptcy agreement – for Cardiff, what they consider to be “faults committed” by McKay are also Nantes’ responsibility, as a result of their “recklessness and negligence in executing the mandate […] and the duty of surveillance over their authorised representative.”
Having been contacted by L’Équipe, Nantes’ lawyers have indicated that they are confident that the claim will be dismissed. They have lamented the “relentlessness” of Cardiff’s legal proceedings, pointing out that after seeing their appeals rejected everywhere else, “they have opened up another absurd legal front”.