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  • Emiliano Sala death

Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, David Henderson is alleged to have arranged the flight carrying Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson

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

David Henderson admitted attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

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

Henderson, 66, of the East Riding of Yorkshire, will now go on trial on a separate charge, accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

He entered the guilty plea, as he appeared before High Court judge Mr Justice Foxton at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday.

The charges have been brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

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Image source, Getty Images/David IbbotsonImage caption, Emiliano Sala (left) was on board a plane being flown by pilot David Ibbotson

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 neither the body of Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane's wreckage, was recovered.

Image caption, The Piper Malibu N264DB disappeared from radar near the Channel Islands on 21 January.

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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.

An jury inquest into his death was postponed until after Henderson's trial and is scheduled for 14 February 2022.

Henderson's trial is expected to last 10 days.