Football agent Mark McKay has confirmed he arranged the flight that was carrying striker Emiliano Sala to Cardiff, but has denied reports he or his family owned the plane.
On Wednesday evening, Guernsey Police confirmed the search to find the Piper Malibu that was carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson had been called off for the day, almost two days after the plane lost contact and disappeared off the radar near Alderney, in the Channel Islands.
McKay, one of Sala’s intermediaries involved in the £15m deal to bring him from Nantes to Cardiff, released a statement saying he was involved in the Cardiff player’s travel arrangements, but denied reports that he was the owner of the plane.
“I can confirm that when Emiliano made myself and his agent Meissa N’Diaye aware that he wished to travel back to Nantes following his medical and signing on Friday, I began to look into arranging a private flight to take him to Nantes on Saturday morning,” said McKay.
“That evening, it was confirmed a plane was available to fly Emiliano on Saturday which could remain in Nantes until he was due to return to Cardiff.
“I have been in contact with officials from Cardiff City FC and the player’s agent over these difficult past few days and will continue to do so.
“I wish to make clear that despite media reports today, the plane involved in this terrible episode was not owned in any way or part by either myself or any member of my family.
“I have chosen to wait a few days before making a statement so that the focus remained on the efforts of the search and rescue teams looking for Emiliano Sala and the pilot of the missing plane,” McKay explained.
“Along with everyone in the world of football, I want to express my sadness and that of my family with regards to the tragic events that have unfolded since Monday evening.
“The families of both Emiliano and that of the pilot are utmost in our thoughts and prayers. I knew Emiliano well, he was a wonderful person and I count myself fortunate to have known him.”