A new book investigating the death of Emiliano Sala concludes there was serious foul play and explores the theory it might have been murder.
The fully updated version of ‘The football crime of the century: The killing of Emiliano Sala‘ is out now and contains exclusive material gleaned from Cardiff City, the police and other regulatory bodies.
Written by leading football author Harry Harris, the book is based on a year’s investigation with The Telegraph and continues its work to ensure that justice is done for Sala’s family.
We learn that Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman suspects Sala was “killed”” and that those responsible must be brought to justice. French prosecutors are currently interviewing key witnesses to decide whether or not to pursue claims of criminal manslaughter.
In a Q&A with Cardiff City supporters, reported in detail in the new fully-updated book, Dalman didn’t duck the more sinister aspects. “There are other odd circumstances that I’m not happy about”, he said.
He added: “Why would I accept somebody booking a plane that was not fit to be there, a pilot that was colour blind and not licensed to fly, and kill a very young boy at the very prime of his career, and I get the bill? What would you do if you were in my place?”
Dalman has been perturbed recently about an item in the latest aviation report, which mentioned that the harness of the pilot David Ibottson was missing.
That there is no explanation for the missing harness, not even a guess as to why the harness was missing, has left a sense of reopening key questions. What happened to the pilot? Where is the pilot?
The pilot remains missing presumed dead, but the conspiracy theory suggesting that he might have been able to skydive out of the plane has been further fuelled by the mystery of the pilot’s missing harness.
In the latest development this week Nantes, who demanded payment of the transfer fee before the footballer was buried, has now nearly a year and a half later asked for more time to prepare their case to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), blaming that the coronavirus has halted the work of their lawyers and advisers.
Sources close to Cardiff City believe this is an excuse and just delaying tactics, as the net closes in on the investigation into what really happened and who might be responsible.
‘The football crime of the century‘ is not just about whether or not a crime was committed, but the agony it is causing the Sala family, particularly his mother, as it will be at least two years before all the regulatory bodies conclude their investigations.
The net though has been progressively, if slowly, tightening around Nantes and a profusion of middlemen involved in the big-money deal.
Many more hands were in the pot to get their share of the money, including Marseille’s 50%, an Argentine club’s 15%, a contract for Willie McKay’s son’s company, the involvement of Willie McKay himself and a profusion of other middlemen in the transaction.
Nantes set off in undignified haste to push FIFA into ordering Cardiff to hand over the first instalment of £5.2m but, as investigations unfolded, the then Premier League club refused to pay up.
Cardiff have always insisted that they would pay whatever they were obliged to, but were deeply concerned about possible negligence and much, much more surrounding the tragic circumstances.
FIFA, in their wisdom, found in favour of Nantes, Cardiff appealed to CAS, but the arbitration hearing set for 19 June has now stalled, as Nantes asked for an extension, which Cardiff agreed.
A file of evidence has been presented to the French prosecutor claiming criminal manslaughter and the French police are looking into it, interviewing key witnesses.
It remains to be seen if they have any jurisdiction to interview Cardiff’s former manager Neil Warnock and the agent at the centre of it all, Willie McKay.
Cardiff did, in fact, ask the police in the UK investigating the case if they could call in the email and telephone records of McKay, but it was refused.
Cardiff, though, asked Warnock for nearly 5,000 items of date, emails and phone records, weeks prior to their former manager deciding to quit the club.
Meanwhile the aviation authorities missed a trick in not salvaging the plane, thereby being able to have greater knowledge of why carbon monoxide rendered the footballer unconscious or deeply affected.
The aviation authorities continue to investigate potential criminal activities, so too do the French prosecutors, but after so long the Argentine family have little faith that they will ever find out the truth.
While that vacuum remains, there are conspiracy theories, the most intriguing being the pilot’s missing harness, the carbon monoxide in the cockpit and the pilot’s skydiving links.
The new book attempts to unravel all the evidence, look deeper into the conspiracy theories and as yet does not dismiss the possibility of serious foul play.
‘The football crime of the century: The killing of Emiliano Sala’. New fully- updated edition out now, by Harry Harris. Empire Publications, £10.95.