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Cardiff claim losses of €120M after dispute over Sala's death

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Cardiff football club on Monday filed a complaint in a French court claiming losses of more than 120 million euros following a dispute with Nantes over Emiliano Sala's death in a plane crash five years ago.

A figure of 120.2 million euros ($128m) was estimated after "an in-depth analysis" by a legal expert, the Welsh club's lawyer Celine Jones told AFP. 

On Monday, this analysis was filed at the Nantes Commercial Court in western France, which gave the French club until September 23 to respond to Cardiff's conclusions, Jones said. 

"We'll take the time to study these new voluminous documents and these figures," lawyers representing Nantes Jerome Marsaudon and Louis-Marie Absil told AFP, evoking the "almost phantasmagorical hypotheses" and "very far-fetched" reasoning.

Sala, a 28-year-old Argentine striker, died when the light aircraft taking him to the Welsh capital came down in the Channel on January 21, 2019, two days after he had signed for the then Premier League side.

For FC Nantes' lawyers, Cardiff's requests are irrelevant, as world football governing body FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have already ruled that the transfer had been finalised at the time of Sala's death. 

But Cardiff believes that FC Nantes was, through its agent Willie McKay, the sponsor of the private flight which the footballer took. 

Even if the transfer was effective at the time of the accident as CAS ruled "it is indeed the organisation of this flight which caused the damage", the Welsh club's lawyer added.

A previous estimate put these damages at 100 million euros, resulting in particular from the financial and reputational losses represented by Cardiff's relegation from the Premier League in 2019.

"If Sala had been able to play, he would inevitably have scored goals between January and June 2019 and Cardiff would have remained in the Premier League. It would be unrealistic to think that he would not have scored any goals," Jones told a hearing in June 2023. 

Last year FIFA ordered Cardiff to pay Nantes the balance of Sala's fee at the time, just over 11 million euros, corresponding to the last two instalments of the 17m-euro fee agreed between the two clubs. 

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