Update On Emiliano Sala Legal Case Against Nantes

Hamish Woodward

The Cardiff City Supporters Trust has issued a statement regarding the club’s current legal with Ligue 1 side Nantes over the death of Emiliano Sala.

The Argentina striker transferred from Nantes to Cardiff in January 2019, as Neil Warnock’s side attempted to battle against relegation from the Premier League.

However, Sala died after his plane (organised by agent Willie McKay who was employed by Nantes) crashed into the channel and killed both the striker and the pilot.

Cardiff City were forced to pay the full transfer fee to Nantes, as it was deemed by FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport that he was a Cardiff player by the time of his death.

However, the Bluebirds now lay locked in a legal battle with Nantes, as “the actions of an agent appointed by Nantes are deemed to be those of FC Nantes, itself, and that those actions directly led to the tragic accident resulting in the death of our player.”

This would mean that they are liable for the death of Emiliano Sala, and could be forced to pay a large settlement fee to the Welsh club if the matter goes to court.

The Cardiff City Supporters Trust Chair, Keith Morgan, provided an update on the legal case on their website, describing the club’s plan going forward and how they plan to fight Nantes in court.

The statement is as follows, and can be read on their website here.

“Cardiff City lodged a significant legal claim in the Nantes courts immediately following a decision of the Swiss Federal Tribunal in Spring, 2023, that ruled a compensation claim was a separate matter from the earlier FIFA decision that Emiliano Sala was the club’s player.

“The basis of the compensation claim is that, under French law, the actions of an agent appointed by Nantes are deemed to be those of FC Nantes, itself, and that those actions directly led to the tragic accident resulting in the death of our player.

“The amount of the claim is both the full value of the transfer fee paid plus a compensation sum for the loss of Premier League status that in probability would not have occurred should Emiliano Sala have played for us and caused us to avoid relegation  (this has been assessed by professional independent third parties). The claim, in total, is a huge one which forensic accountants are valuing.

“A procedural hearing was held in France in June at which Nantes were required to file their defence by the end of November- they did so on the last day.

“A large element of their defence appears to be that they don’t recognise Willie McKay as their agent and instead dealt with a different company as agent (a “shell” company which lists its directors as Willie McKay’s son and wife and which at the time had no trading records filed at Companies House).

“Reliable sources at Cardiff City have told me that the club has copious amounts of documents disproving Nantes defence.

“The June hearing was reported in the French media at the time but appears to have been based on reports prepared by PR companies employed by Nantes.

“The next stage in the legal action is that Cardiff City has until the end of January 2024, to respond to Nantes’ defence after which there will be a further procedural hearing to set court dates etc.

“I understand that the eventual court hearing later in 2024 (if not settled out of court beforehand) will be before three judges who will be experienced business people rather than solicitors.

“I hope that this brief update provides Trust members and the wider fan base with an accurate picture of the current situation in this matter.

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