LONDON: A man has pleaded guilty to a charge relating to the flight in which footballer Emiliano Sala died.

David Henderson, 67, admitted trying to arrange a flight for a passenger without permission or authorisation.

The plane carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson crashed into the English Channel in January 2019.

Henderson of Hotham, East Riding of Yorkshire, will go on trial after denying a separate charge of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

The charges have been brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and relate to endangering the aircraft and operating commercially without permission.

Henderson is alleged to have arranged the flight carrying Sala and 59-year-old Mr Ibbotson.

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was bringing the striker, who was involved in a multimillion pound transfer deal, from Nantes in France to Cardiff where he had signed for the Bluebirds.

The body of Sala was recovered from the seabed the following month, but the body of Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, was never recovered.

At a hearing in October 2020, the court heard how Mr Ibbotson’s licence to fly an aircraft commercially had expired in November 2018.

The Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) reported at the start of the year that the plane had been leaking carbon monoxide during the flight and a final manoeuvre by Mr Ibbotson to pull up the plane had caused it to break up mid-air.

A jury inquest into his death was postponed until after Henderson’s trial and is scheduled for 14 February 2022. The trial is expected to last 10 days.

A dispute between Cardiff City and Nantes over payment of the transfer is to be considered early next year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.