The tragic death of Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala as he flew to meet up with his new club Cardiff City from Nantes on January 21 has shaken the world of football.

In the weeks that have followed a dispute between the two clubs over his £15 million transfer fee has begun.

Nathan Talbott a financial disputes lawyer with Wright Hassall comments “the payment dispute between Cardiff City and Nantes is fraught with emotion after the tragic death of Emiliano Sala but from a legal perspective the situation is pretty clear.”

“As we are talking about a fully-completed, fixed-term contract based on provision of services, the Premier League club are in a situation where any attempts they make to try to avoid the £15 million payment they had agreed prior to Sala’s death will be wrongly placed.

The deal was completed the moment the player registered with his new club – not after he had his first training session or made his first appearance.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a tragic incident such as this, someone does have to bear the brunt of this loss of talent and the value that brings to their club.

Any plans to spread the £15 million across a number of years will still be legally binding. “

One area which may have been overlooked by the outside world as the tributes to Sala still pour in and the shock of his death is continued to be felt around the game, is the financial impact this will have on his family.

If the player hadn’t tragically lost his life but suffered injuries that prevented him from playing football again, his wages would have been payable for a defined period pursuant to his contract, albeit Cardiff City are likely to have been protected by insurance and/or able to seek recovery from a third party.

Because this is such a rare case, there isn’t another example to draw upon that would guide us as to whether this helps protect a player’s wages in the event of their death.

You would assume that there would be something in place but to what level that will financially compensate his estate is yet to be seen and may end up being an even bigger issue than the current dispute over his transfer fee.

About the author

Nathan Talbott Partner

Nathan is a member of our Tax and Financial Services Litigation team dealing with disputes relating to investments, tax schemes, pensions and HMRC enquiries and negotiations. He has acted on “both sides” in this regard, advising corporates and individuals as well as financial institutions.