A new search for missing Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala has been launched after more than £250,000 was raised to fund the operation.
An official search and rescue operation for the Piper PA-46 Malibu carrying the Argentinian striker and pilot David Ibbotson was called off on Thursday.
Pleas for the search to resume were made by the 28-year-old player’s family, Argentinian football stars Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Sergio Aguero, and the country’s president Mauricio Macri.
Donations from footballers including Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan have helped a GoFundMe page raising money for the search to reach a revised target of 300,000 euros (£259,000).
A statement on the GoFundMe page read: “The call for funds launched late Friday afternoon allowed the relatives of Emiliano Sala, via a specialised organisation, to resume research in the Channel early Saturday morning. Two boats conduct the operations.”
Football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala from Nantes to Cardiff but had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot.
McKay’s son, Mark, was the acting agent for Nantes in a move which made 28-year-old Sala a club-record transfer for Cardiff.
His other son, Jack, who plays for the Bluebirds, exchanged a series of text messages with Sala, suggesting a private flight from Cardiff to Nantes, and then back to south Wales two days later.
McKay senior, who has released those messages, said a commercial flight to the French city would have involved going via Amsterdam.
After signing for Cardiff for £15million, Sala returned to Nantes to collect his belongings and say goodbye to team-mates and staff of the Ligue 1 club before heading back to the United Kingdom. However, the plane carrying Sala disappeared over the Channel on Monday evening.
Cardiff’s staff and supporters, meanwhile, will wear yellow daffodils at Arsenal on Tuesday in respect of Sala and the club captains will place floral tributes at the ground.
On Saturday tributes were paid to the missing men before games including the FA Cup match between Swansea and Gillingham at the Liberty Stadium and Stoke’s home meeting with Preston in the Sky Bet Championship.
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