Emiliano Sala’s family launch legal action against Cardiff City over footballer’s death on flight to join new club


The family of late footballer, Emiliano Sala, have launched legal action against Cardiff City and his former club FC Nantes over his death in a plane crash.

Then aged 28, the striker was travelling to join Cardiff after signing from FC Nantes when the single-engine Piper Malibu plane crashed north of Guernsey on January 21, 2019.

A pre-inquest review into his death took place in Bournemouth on Wednesday, March 10, but a full inquest won’t be held until next year.

Lawyers for the family said the high court action had been started to “protect their legal rights”.

The legal suit action includes Cardiff City – the club he had signed for just three days before his death.

They are also taking legal action against his former French club, FC Nantes, which sold him for £15million to Cardiff.

Daniel Machover, of Hickman & Rose Solicitors, said: “In order to protect their legal rights and remedies arising from Emiliano’s untimely death, the family have commenced civil proceedings in the high court, but will seek agreement to stay those proceedings pending the outcome of the inquest.”

Sala was killed on a flight to join his new club

His body was recovered the following month but the body of the aircraft’s pilot, David Ibbotson, 59, has not been found.

David Henderson, who is alleged to have arranged the flight, is due to stand trial in October.

He is accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, as well as attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch previously concluded that the aircraft carrying Sala and Mr Ibbotson suffered an in-flight break-up while being flown too fast for its design limits.

It also found that the pilot lost control while attempting to avoid bad weather.

It added that the pilot was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigators found that Ibbotson had no training in night flying, and a lack of recent practice as he relied only on cockpit instruments to control a plane.

They also found that he held a private pilot’s licence that did not allow him to conduct flights for reward.

In January 2021, Sala’s family demanded to know “the full truth” about his death.

In a statement, the family’s lawyer called for a formal inquest to be held after the trial of charter pilot Mr Henderson.

Henderson denied endangering the safety of an aircraft and attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation when he appeared before Cardiff Crown Court in October last year.

His trial has been set for October 2021.


Lawyer Machover, on behalf of the family, said: “It is a tragedy that two years have passed since Emiliano’s death and we still do not know exactly how and why he died.

“An inquest is the only way to establish the full truth.

“I very much hope that the Dorset Coroner will now set a date for the inquest to start immediately after David Henderson’s trial, so that Emiliano’s family do not have to endure another bleak anniversary with no answers.”

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