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Cardiff Shocked by Nantes Demand of Emiliano Sala’s Transfer Fee

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French club Nantes have left Cardiff City in shock and dismay after the former demanded the first instalment of Emiliano Sala’s transfer fee.

Argentinean forward player, Sala, was on board Piper PA-46 Malibu, which went missing over the English Channel on 21 January. Sala was accompanied by pilot David Ibbotson on board.

A private search, backed by Sala’s family and well wishers who donated money, found the wreckage of the plane on Sunday. By mid of the week, the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said a body was also recovered from the wreckage, but did not confirm if the body was of Sala or Ibbotson.

In a statement to CNN, AAIB said, “Following extensive visual examination of the accident site using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), it was decided to attempt recovery operations. In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage.”

On Tuesday, Nantes sent a letter to Cardiff, threatening to take a legal action if the first instalment is not received within 10 days. The letter came five days after Nantes had sent an email to Cardiff to remind the payment terms and to transfer the first of three instalments.

Nantes were entitled to receive the first scheduled payment of Sala’s transfer fee of £15m by now.

For Cardiff establishing all the facts involved in the tragic event is more important as of now. There is no indication that the club is not willing to honour its contractual obligations. The Welsh club is waiting for the investigation to get over.

In an interview with a French newspaper, Mehmet Dalman, Cardiff’s chairman, said that the club has received an invoice of 6m Euros (£5.27m) from Nantes.

Dalman said, “We must show respect to the family. There is the process of recovering the plane.”

Sala signed for Cardiff on 19 January – but never played for the club – two days later, while he was flying back from Nantes after saying goodbye to his former teammates, the tragic accident took place. Reportedly, Cardiff have a player insurance policy of £16m per individual and it is believed that Sala was insured by Cardiff.

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What’s Magnetizing Saudi to Bid for Manchester United Time and Again?

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Rumours about Saudi’s bid of taking over the Premier League Club, Manchester United, keep coming out in the media. Recently, it was reported that Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) offered £3.8bn takeover bid of the club.

However, in a statement on Monday the nation dismissed its plans of taking over the club. The news is “completely untrue,” Saudi information minister Turki Alshabanah wrote on Twitter.

According to the sources, “The club held a meeting with the Public Investment Fund to discuss an advertising sponsorship project, and the Fund listened to the proposals as any investment and did not produce any results,” Turki Alshabanah said.

Despite that it cannot be said for how long can Saudi stick by its guns. Even back in October last year, the Kingdom made an offer to acquire the club, but could not capitalize on the opportunity following the claims of murdering Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The Need of the Hour

Managing image in the West has been the Kingdom’s topmost priority for a very long time. Even as recently as last week the Journal reported that the nation’s collaboration with the Western media was exposed hoaxing MbS’ reform.

The Crown Prince had reportedly signed a deal with Vice Media, under which the media house was directed to produce documentaries and influence the Western nations.

Manchester United has bagged the coveted Premier League Trophy 13 times, more than any other club in the history, and maybe this is what brings the Saudis to the table. The club is currently owned by Glazer family, who purchased it in 2005 for £790million.

Besides, Saudi’s close aide and long-time ally, UAE, has successfully been spreading their message of positivity all over the world using football as a tool.

This is especially the case because the City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, belongs to the royal family of Abu Dhabi. Together with Khaldoon al-Mubark, his youthful executive and advisor to royal family, he holds the key to delegate how the management works.

In fact, UAE doesn’t stop here, the Emirate has found its own City Football Group (CFG) and it owns or co-owns six clubs across four continents. The group, as reported by the Guardian, has contracted more than 240 male professionals, and two dozen women.

The UAE’s bridge to the West is exactly what the Kingdom aims at replicating by trying to reach Manchester United. Therefore, the probability of owning the club to promote the national image is still on the cards for them.

Conversely, Saudi-UAE have raged a war against humanity in Yemen, killing more than 10,000 people. Both nations have also continuously faced the heat over the detention of human right activists, and for barring people to express what’s right. However, big strides in the West aimed at fixing and building reputation is what the two gulf nations have continuously worked on.

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Cardiff City Defends Withholding Sala’s Transfer Fee

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Chairman of Cardiff City, Mehmet Dalman, has said that his club will be “honourable” with Nantes over the £15m transfer for Emiliano Sala and has defended withholding the payment. The statement follows the allegations that Cardiff was shocked after the latter demanded the first installment of Emiliano Sala’s transfer fee.

Dalman confirmed that the French were actually calling for the legal action, but Cardiff were seeking “clarification”. Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage last week, as the greatest fear of the footballing world came alive.

Cardiff’s chairman also confirmed the club’s manager, Neil Warnock of having a strong connection with the football agents, and that people had “knives out” for Cardiff’s manager.

A plane carrying two passengers, Sala and his pilot David Ibbotso, went missing over the English Channel on January 21. Though Sala’s corpse has been recovered, no confirmation has been made on Ibbotso’s case.

However, a fundraising appeal to carry on the underwater search for the pilot has been set up. Cardiff City owner, Vincent Tan, in the wake of which has donated £50,000.

Confirming the Nantes action, Dalman said: “Of course, if we are contractually obliged to pay them then, of course, we will. We are an honorable club. But if we are not – and there are some anomalies in that – then surely you would expect me as the chairman and guardian of this club’s interests to look into that and hold our position. That is what we are doing.”

“We are still in the process of gathering information and that process will be ongoing. And when we reach a level where we have enough information, I am sure we will sit down with Nantes and move forward,” he added.

Warnock on the other hand complained about a “vendetta” against him. The statement came amid the existing criticism on his links with agent Willie McKay, but Dalman affirmed that he had nothing to answer in the case.

McKay is the same person who arranged the flight that Sala boarded from Nantes, but the agent had no role in handpicking the plane.

Dalman upon asking about Warnock’s relationships with agents said: “I have absolutely no worries about that. We take our relationships from the day he started working at Cardiff. I don’t really want to get involved in any vendettas and mud throwing.”

The statement, however, raised a few questions because two of McKay’s sons had been in Cardiff Academy.

The chairman further wrote off the rumors surrounding Warnock’s resignation over the death of Sala, and said that he considers his future “24 hours a day, seven days a week.” He confirmed, “that discussion has never taken place and I have absolutely no intention of holding that discussion.”

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Guardiola Predicts Top Teams with a Real Chance of Winning the League

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The analytical mind of Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola, who has won Europe’s biggest trophies, concluded that more than top two clubs stand a chance at winning the Premier League.

“There are 39 points to play and it is not too much if you are nine or 10 behind,” said Guardiola. “I never said Tottenham are not there. United making this run every single week and they will be there. Now we see the table and see the first two or three and we don’t look further than that. Chelsea can win games in a row and be a contender,” he added.

As it stands, the defending champions, Manchester City are placed second in the league. However, it can still change pretty soon if they overcome Everton to go ahead on goal difference, maybe only until Liverpool plays Bournemouth on Saturday.

Tottenham is five points adrift off the top spot, with Chelsea 12 and Manchester United 14 behind at fifth spot. City scored a perfect 100 points last season and ran riots at almost every other team, scoring 106 goals in 38 matches, but it hasn’t been that easy for them this season.

Liverpool looked comfortable with a 7-point lead at one time, but that changed as they lost to City on 3 January. The team has seen immense success in the past, but they have never lifted the coveted trophy, which might be raising anticipation and pressure inside the camp; as the business end approaches.

Guardiola said, “We try to be calm. There will be surprises and it will be tough for teams to win every game. Non-contenders have ability to create problems. He added, “What I’m more concerned is we never forget who we are as a team, doing what we have to do. That’s what I want to watch and after we see about the results, the table.”

City eased past Arsenal in their last match as Sergio Agüero completed his 10th hat trick. Contrarily, Liverpool failed to extend their lead after they drew against West Ham on Monday, and also with Leicester City last week.

Premier League is certainly poised at this time, especially with the top three sides having a great chance of lifting the trophy at the end of the season. Nerves are already playing their part, but as Guardiola suggested it would still be pretty early to count any team out of the contention zone.

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