This still made from video provided by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch showing the wreckage of the plane which crashed into the Channel on Jan. 21, 2019 killing footballer Emiliano Sala. Air accident investigators say on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019 that the plane carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala was not licensed for commercial use by authorities. But in the initial crash report investigators are yet to determine whether it could be classified a private flight if costs were being shared, so commercial flight regulations were not applicable. (AAIB via AP)

LONDON – A preliminary report into the air crash which cost Emiliano Sala his life has raised questions about whether the pilot was legally licensed to carry the player, which could encourage Cardiff City to continue withholding payment of the £15 million transfer fee to Nantes.

An experienced football administrator at the top of the English game told Sportsmail that if the flight was not fully licensed to fly Sala, then Cardiff’s insurance policy might be invalid.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch report says the Piper Malibu aircraft was not licensed for commercial use.

Pilot Dave Ibbotson, who is still missing after the crash, was entitled to transport the player on a private basis, but would have needed to pay half the operating costs of the flight, under aviation rules on carrying passengers.

On Monday night, Cardiff issued a statement making it clear they view the AAIB report as a source of concern.

The club said: “We have grave concerns that questions remain over the validity of the pilot’s licence and rating to undertake such a journey.

“We are also concerned to discover that the trip involved an aircraft which... may have been operating unlawfully.”

Daily Mail