Wednesday also brought news that Sala’s former team, France’s Nantes, is pressing the team to which it sold him, Cardiff City, for an installment on his $19.4 million transfer fee. According to the BBC, Nantes is threatening legal action against Cardiff, demanding the first of a scheduled three payments of approximately $6.5 million each over three years.
The Welsh club, which plays in the English Premier League, prefers to wait until the incident has been fully investigated by police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch before making any payments, per Sky Sports. Cardiff was said to be willing to honor the deal made for Sala but believes “there are a series of questions that still need answering,” in particular about “the ownership” of the plane that disappeared from radar on the night of Jan. 21.
“We must show respect to the family,” Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman said (via the BBC). “There is the process of recovering the plane.”
That aircraft, a Piper Malibu, was found Sunday by private search companies on the seabed off the coast of Guernsey, an island near Normandy, over a week after authorities called off their three-day search because “chances of survival” at that point were “extremely remote.”
The AAIB said (via the AP) that the body was recovered in “challenging conditions,” and that the “operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress.”
The agency added (via the BBC) that attempts to recover the plane were not successful, saying in a statement, “The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close.” However, video footage taken by a remotely operated underwater vehicle was described as providing “valuable evidence” for the AAIB’s safety investigation.
Sala, a striker whose 12 goals are still in the top five in Ligue 1 statistics, was acquired in what was for Cardiff a record-setting expenditure. Club officials were reported to have expressed “surprise” when Nantes demanded payment while the investigation was still in progress.
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