Neil Warnock said he could not fault Cardiff City's players following their relegation from the Premier League, while acknowledging the setback was put into perspective by the tragic death of Emiliano Sala.

Cardiff agreed a deal with Nantes to make Sala their record signing in January, but the Argentinian striker was killed, at the age of 28, when a plane he was travelling in crashed in the English Channel, just two days on from his move to Wales being announced.

After a 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday ended Cardiff's hopes of avoiding an immediate return to the Championship, manager Warnock told a news conference: "We have missed a goalscorer. Someone asked me about Emiliano ... but I think that also puts things in perspective. We've got relegated. The lad lost his life."

Responding to further questioning about the devastating incident, Warnock added: "Obviously it was difficult. This was something completely out of the blue. I wish we could have had Emiliano with us because I think he would have scored 10 goals.

"But I can't fault the lads. They've given me everything and they've just come up short."

Warnock was unable to confirm whether he would stay with Cardiff next season, explaining he would hold talks with the club's hierarchy "in the next few weeks".

However, the 70-year-old added: "I will be working next year. I will have a year somewhere. I am looking forward to that challenge now. If I hadn't got the drive, I wouldn't do it, but I have got the drive."

A significant number of Cardiff fans stayed after the full-time whistle to offer warm applause to the Bluebirds' players and staff following their final home game of the campaign.

"I've never seen a relegated team get an ovation like that," said Warnock. "Daft as it sounds, it's probably my best job ever to do what I've done with this club. We've had to overcome so much, keeping a group like this together. I can't really be any prouder."

Palace boss Roy Hodgson was pleased with the efforts of his side as strikes from Wilfried Zaha, Michy Batshuayi and Andros Townsend outweighed a Martin Kelly own goal and Bobby Reid's late consolation.

Hodgson told a news conference: "Cardiff have fought very hard in every game throughout the season ... so we knew they'd be giving us nothing and we'd have to fight and work hard for every opportunity. We matched them and showed the necessary quality."

The father of Emiliano Sala has died just three months after the footballer was killed in a plane crash. 

Horacio Sala, who was 58, passed away at his home in Progreso, Argentina following a heart attack. 

Julio Muller, the mayor of the town in the Santa Fe province where Emiliano Sala was born, confirmed the news to radio station La Red. 

"This year doesn't stop surprising us with bad news in this town," he said. 

"At five o'clock, Horacio's partner called me because she was very upset. We live four blocks from their house. When I arrived, the doctors were already there, but he had already passed away." 

Muller said Horacio Sala had struggled to come to terms with the death of his son, whose body was recovered in the English Channel after the plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed. Pilot David Ibbotson has not been found. 

"I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate," Horacio told Cronica TV shortly after the crash, which happened when his son was travelling to the UK to link up with Cardiff City after agreeing to a £15million transfer from Nantes in January. 

Daniel Ribero, the president of Emiliano Sala's old club San Martin de Progreso, said Horacio had recently shown signs of recovery from his grief. 

"I was with him during the week," said Ribero, as quoted by Ole. "I passed him in the street and we spent half an hour talking about the soybean harvest, the truck... 

"I noticed he was better, he was keen to talk." 

Cardiff City are seeking talks with Nantes to settle the dispute over the £15million transfer fee for the late Emiliano Sala.

FIFA had originally ordered the clubs to resolve the matter by Wednesday but has agreed to Cardiff's request for an extension, which will run until Monday, April 15.

The Premier League side refused to make the first scheduled payment, owing to what chairman Mehmet Dalman identified as "anomalies" in the deal, prompting Nantes to make a complaint to FIFA.

A statement from Cardiff read: "Cardiff City has requested and been granted an extension to the deadline to respond to FIFA on this matter.

"Cardiff City recently wrote to FC Nantes proposing a meeting to discuss issues surrounding the Emiliano Sala tragedy and planned transfer, in line with FIFA's request for our two clubs to come to a resolution directly.

"To date, Cardiff City has not received a response from FC Nantes."

Cardiff claim the deal to make Sala their record signing was not legally binding because conditions insisted upon by Nantes were not fulfilled.

Omnisport understands the player's Cardiff contract was rejected by the Premier League because it did not align with its rules regarding signing-on fees and Sala was unable sign the revised terms before his death.

The 28-year-old died when the light aircraft he was travelling on from Nantes to Cardiff crashed on January 21.

Nantes have made a claim against Cardiff City in connection with the transfer of Emiliano Sala to the Premier League club, FIFA has confirmed.

Sala became Cardiff's record signing when he joined the Premier League club for a reported £15million in January, but the striker died in a plane crash before making an appearance.

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman has promised the club will be "honourable" over the deal, but also said they want to investigate "anomalies" in the transfer before making a payment.

Neil Warnock confirmed Cardiff had been given an extension for the first instalment of the transfer fee last Thursday, but Nantes have since taken the matter to the world's governing body.

A FIFA spokesperson told Omnisport: "We can confirm that we have received yesterday [Tuesday] evening a claim of a contractual nature from FC Nantes against Cardiff City in connection with the transfer of Emiliano Sala.

"We are looking into the matter and consequently we have no further comments at this stage."

Cardiff City have outlined "grave concerns" about pilot David Ibbotson's licence and the legality of the flight that carried Emiliano Sala following an interim Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report.

Ibbotson and Sala were travelling from Nantes to Cardiff on board a Piper Malibu aircraft when it disappeared on January 21.

Sala's body was later recovered from the plane wreckage in the English Channel with the help of specialist contractors, he died from head and trunk injuries. Ibbotson's body has yet to be found.

The AAIB is investigating the circumstances surrounding the flight and released an interim report on Monday, detailing its focus.

A summary found that the plane, registered in the United States, could not be used for commercial purposes without prior permission. There was no evidence that permission had been sought, although it was unclear if the flight was alternatively being operated on a cost-sharing basis.

The AAIB also said Ibbotson's "logbook and licence were not recovered from the aircraft, and the ratings on his licences and their validity dates have not yet been established".

With a full report still set to follow, Cardiff responded with a statement.

"The club acknowledges the publication today by the AAIB of their special bulletin on the loss of the Piper Malibu aircraft carrying Emiliano Sala," it read.

"We have grave concerns that questions still remain over the validity of the pilot's licence and rating to undertake such a journey, as identified in the bulletin.

"We are also concerned to discover that the trip involved an aircraft which did not conform to either UK CAA or US FAA requirements for commercial activity and therefore may have been operating unlawfully.

"We welcome further investigation into the accident, which is required to determine precisely what happened, and to ensure changes are made so that this situation never happens again."

Cardiff signed striker Sala from Nantes in a club-record deal in January.


Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock says the club have been given more time by Nantes to pay the first part of the transfer fee for Emiliano Sala.

Sala became Cardiff's record signing when he joined the Premier League club for a reported £15million last month, but the striker died in a plane crash before making an appearance.

Chairman Mehmet Dalman has promised the club will be "honourable" over the deal but said they want to investigate "anomalies" in the transfer before making a payment.

And Warnock sought to clear up the matter when he spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of Cardiff hosting Watford in the Premier League.

"I think there's been a lot of stuff written - and I know people have got jobs to do - and people are surmising things," he told reporters.

"I've known Mehmet Dalman and he'll do it in the right way. They've asked for an extension and Nantes have allowed it.

"I've got confidence in Mehmet to come to a conclusion. Certain things have been done which shouldn't have been done - certain things shouldn't have come out [in the media].

"All I can talk about is the football side. I'm convinced Mehmet will bring this to a conclusion."

Warnock attended Sala's funeral in Argentina last weekend and he said it was an emotional experience.

"They're a very close-knit community," he added. "Everybody came to the wake in the local village hall. I've never seen anything like it.

"People coming up to the mother, I don't know how she coped. They were talking about when he was four years old, seven years old. She was crying her eyes out, but I think she had a bit of closure.

"It was the right thing to do, but it was an experience to see the emotion from everyone. The press were there from every country."

Cardiff City have been making statements suggesting they will be trying to get out of their agreement to play Ligue 1 outfit Nantes, 15 million for Emiliano Sala, who died tragically in a plane accident on his way to his new club.
Do Cardiff have a point, or are they displaying bad form?

Mourners have paid their final respects to Emiliano Sala at a funeral for the late Cardiff City striker in his native Argentina.

A special memorial was held at a sports hall in the Santa Fe province where he grew up before the funeral took place later on Saturday.

The 28-year-old and pilot David Ibbotson were on board a Piper Malibu aircraft when it disappeared on January 21.

Sala was on his way to link up with Premier League side Cardiff after completing a club-record transfer move from Nantes two days earlier.

His body was last week recovered from the plane wreckage in the English Channel with the help of specialist contractors.

Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock and CEO Ken Choo were among the funeral attendees.

Daniel Ribero, president of Sala's first club San Martin de Progreso, described his death as "like a hard punch".

"On January 19 they confirmed his transfer to Cardiff and we were really happy for that," Ribero told Omnisport.

"And 48 hours later this tragedy happens. So we passed by a huge joy to an immense sorrow. As I said, [it feels] like a hard punch in the head."

Ribero said Sala's switch from Ligue 1 outfit Nantes to Cardiff had brought joy to those who knew him.

"That step ahead to Premier League, even if he was going to a club which was fighting against relegation, it could have been a step forward in his career to something bigger in Premier League, to a team which fights for something more important," he said.

"Then we all dreamed about him playing for the national team. Considering all these generational and technical changes [to the Argentina national team]... maybe if Emiliano had a good season in Premier League, he could have got his chance, and then we would have felt in heaven."

Warnock, meanwhile, said: "You know things like this don't happen very often, so you can't understand the emotions of the family. 

"The thing today is how united they all are, the village, not just the family, the whole village is really united. I think it really brings it home to you at this time, how important the family are.

"It's been very moving in there and it's been a difficult morning for everyone, but at least I think they've got some comfort now in the fact that at least they can have closure."

Chairman Mehmet Dalman has promised Cardiff City will be an "honourable club" with Nantes over the payment of a transfer fee for Emiliano Sala, once they have gathered further information.

Striker Sala was heading to Cardiff after completing a club-record move from the Ligue 1 side when the Piper Malibu aircraft carrying both the player and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared on January 21.

The 28-year-old's body was recovered with the help of specialist contractors from the plane wreckage in the English Channel last week.

Reports emerged in France last Wednesday that Nantes were demanding the first instalment of the €15million Cardiff had agreed to pay for the Argentine forward.

Dalman insists the Premier League club will pay up - but not before they have investigated what they believe to be "anomalies" in the deal.

"Of course, if we are contractually obliged to pay them then of course we will. We are an honourable club," he told BBC Sport Wales. 

"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." 

Dalman also confirmed Nantes have threatened legal action, adding: "They have asked for what they believe is the money due to them and there is a process and they have initiated that process.

"What we are saying is that we are not in agreement with that process given the extraordinary events that have taken place and the tragic circumstances. We are not making any positive or negative statements. 

"We are simply saying, please understand there are a lot of questions which need to be answered and that is what we are trying to do."

Emiliano Sala's death was caused by injuries to his head and trunk, it has been confirmed.

Argentine striker Sala was on board a Piper Malibu aircraft that disappeared over the English Channel last month on its way from Nantes to Cardiff, after the 28-year-old had become the Premier League club's record signing.

Last week, a body was recovered from the wreckage of the plane and subsequently identified as that of Sala. Pilot David Ibbotson, the only other person on board, is yet to be found.

During Monday's hearing of the post-mortem examination, Dorset Coroner's Court concluded Sala's passing was caused by injuries to his head and trunk.

There will now be an interim investigation which is expected to be concluded within the next six to 12 months.


Nantes players and fans paid a series of tributes to the late Emiliano Sala before and during their Ligue 1 match against Nimes on Sunday.

Vahid Halihodzic's side were in action for the first time since the body recovered from a plane wreckage in the English Channel was confirmed as that of their former striker.

Sala, who last month signed for Premier League side Cardiff City, and pilot David Ibbotson were on board a Piper Malibu aircraft that disappeared on January 21.

Nantes confirmed they would retire the number nine shirt worn by the Argentine during his time at the club and players from the French outfit were involved in attaching his jersey to one of the goal nets at Stade de la Beaujoire.

Tickets to the match against Nimes were sold for a symbolic €9, with fans displaying a large tifo bearing the number prior to kick-off.

Supporters from both clubs also chanted Sala's name during the ninth minute of the game.

Southampton have confirmed two fans were detained by police after making "indecent gestures" during the Premier League match against Cardiff City, where respects were paid to the late Emiliano Sala.

Video footage shared on social media showed men mimicking planes at St Mary's and the Saints confirmed authorities had taken the details of two individuals.

Sala's body was recovered from a plane wreckage in the English Channel this week after the Piper Malibu aircraft that was carrying him and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared on January 21.

Southampton asserted their intention to ban anybody found to be involved in taunting the travelling Cardiff fans.

A statement from the club read: "Southampton Football Club can confirm that two fans were detained and had their details taken by police during our match against Cardiff City on Saturday.

"The club will continue to work with Hampshire Police to identify any individuals deemed to have made indecent gestures towards Cardiff supporters.

"Such behaviour has no place in our game and will not be tolerated at St Mary's. The club will be taking an extremely firm stance against anyone involved and intends to ban those supporters identified."

Tributes to Sala were paid before the match, which Cardiff won 2-1, with both sets of players observing a moment's silence.

Both Sol Bamba and Neil Warnock were proud to have won for Emiliano Sala after Cardiff City snatched a dramatic victory at Southampton on Saturday.

Cardiff were in action at St Mary's for the first time since the body of record signing Sala, discovered in plane wreckage in the English Channel, was identified.

Goals from Bamba and Kenneth Zohore - the latter in the third minute of injury time, having been pegged back moments earlier - saw the Bluebirds win for the second week running in the Premier League.

The victory saw Warnock's men climb out of the relegation zone and both the manager and captain Bamba were keen to pay tribute to Sala afterwards.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks," Bamba said. "We knew we had to come here and get a result and it wasn't easy.

"But to put in a performance like this is very good and we're very pleased at the end. It's a massive boost, especially at this stage of the season.

"We want to build momentum and have a run of games, so it was good to get the win and hopefully we can build on that.

"It can't get better, scoring the first goal in front of our fans. A lot goes through your mind. I know Emiliano Sala was looking from up there, so it's good to get the three points."

Following up a home success against Bournemouth, this was the first time Cardiff had won consecutive top-flight matches since April 1962.

Warnock added to BBC Sport: "The crowd have been amazing, you saw them today.

"I'm really pleased for them because it's a long way to come and they deserve that. In the last few weeks, they've stuck with us. It's been difficult for everybody.

"I thought today was appropriate, it was the first time since 1962 we've got back-to-back wins [in the top flight] and I think, for Emiliano, I feel really proud that the lads have done him justice."

Nantes will request to move fixtures if required so players can attend the funeral of Emiliano Sala, head coach Vahid Halilhodzic has confirmed.

Dorset Police announced on Thursday the body recovered from a plane wreckage in the English Channel was that of the striker, while pilot David Ibbotson remains missing.

Nantes, who sold Sala to Cardiff last month, have cut ticket prices to €9 for Sunday's Ligue 1 game at home to Nimes to allow as many supporters as possible to pay tribute.

And Halilhodzic said the club will seek fixture rearrangements if necessary so players are able to travel to Sala's funeral, with his body set to be transported to Argentina.

"Of course, we will ask. Now, how and what we are going to do are something else. I do not have the proper information yet. We'll see," he told a news conference on Friday.

"I do not know what we are going to do yet. Earlier, we will discuss with some players who were very close to him. We already played three games in this situation. We have to be strong. It was so unexpected and sad. We have to move on but I am telling you, that's not easy. Not easy at all.

"We always had hope. We knew that, it was thin, that it was almost utopian, an illusion. Unfortunately, I suspected two days ago of this truth - terrible, unjust. I know that the situation is different for Emiliano and the pilot's families. Things are still terrible.

"We must now pay tribute to someone who will leave an eternal mark in this club by his behaviour, his modesty, and not only as a player. He has really been unanimously loved everywhere. I have seen almost everyone in the sport industry pay homage to him.

"Just now, before the training, we will do a small ceremony to honour him with dignity and modesty, as he was. After, can we work or not, it's something else."

Cardiff have confirmed they will work with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) in a bid to find out why the plane came down.

"I wish to express my deepest heartfelt condolences to the family of Emiliano Sala for their loss," said the club's owner Vincent Tan in a statement. 

"May Emiliano's soul rest in peace. I am personally very sad over this incident. This fine young man would have been very happy and successful at Cardiff City where he would have made a new home and many friends.

"Cardiff City will continue to work with the AAIB and investigators to find out how the crash happened and to assist Emiliano's family. We have offered to them to arrange to take Emiliano back to rest with his family in Argentina.

"Even though he will be there his soul will always be in our hearts. We feel a tremendous loss but the biggest loss is borne by Sala's family. May Sala's soul rest in peace."

Sala's family said the identification of his body will help to bring them closure.

"We would like to thank you for all your signs of affection and support in what is the most painful time of our lives," a widely reported statement from the family read.

"Seeing the whole world mobilised to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.

"On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him."

Sala's sister Romina wrote on Instagram: "Your soul in my soul, it will shine forever thus illuminating the time of my existence. I love you, tito."

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock believes Emiliano Sala's family finally have peace after confirmation that the body recovered from a plane wreckage in the English Channel was that of the striker.

The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed on Wednesday that a body had been passed to the Dorset Coroner, having been recovered with the help of specialist contractors, and it was identified as Sala a day later.

The Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared with Sala and pilot David Ibbotson aboard on January 21, with the 28-year-old en route to Cardiff having completed a club-record transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes.

Tributes have been paid to the striker from across the world of football since the news broke on Thursday, which has had a warming impact on Warnock, and he is relieved Sala's family finally have some closure.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Warnock said: "While everybody expects the worst when it happens, I got a phone call last night and it was strange.

"It brings the family peace, offers them comfort – that's what Sharon [Warnock's wife] said from the start. I don't know how it's affected the players, one or two have always been a little sensitive.

"When I think I've seen it all in football, our fans keep surprising me every week now. I don't think there's anything that would surprise me with them, and the Arsenal fans, Bournemouth fans, fans from clubs all over.

"When something like this happens it brings all the football family together. It shows that everybody is thinking on the same wavelength and it's a loss to everyone in football.

"When you look at the finances they were able to raise [via crowdfunding] to enable the search in the first place, I found that amazing. The response has been unbelievable.

"That might have surprised everyone. To get that response is just amazing, and I'm sure anybody in the circumstances would have done that. It shows football isn't all bad news, hooliganism and everything else.

"I don't think I have to mention Emiliano [in his pre-Southampton team talk]. The tributes will have an impact. I've asked the Premier League if we can wear shirts with the daffodils and I'm sure they'll allow that.

"I wanted to mention David [Ibbotson, the pilot]. I'm sure his family will be going through hell. Our thoughts are with him and his family."

After Sala's disappearance was first confirmed, Warnock suggested the matter had made him consider his future as a manager, however he says his comments were blown out of proportion.

"I think that was a little bit over the top," he said. "As always, you get certain tabloids creating stories - but I went in the local paper and put that to bed.

"Anybody that saw us play the last couple of games will know we're up for it. It's a challenge we want to face head-on."

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