Cardiff boss Warnock and McKay used to be friends but Sala tragedy has pushed them apart

FOR years, Neil Warnock and Willie McKay were pals. Not any more.

McKay, the controversial transfer broker at the centre of the Emiliano Sala tragedy, has fallen out with Cardiff’s manager.

 The late Emiliano Sala's tragic transfer to Cardiff has pushed Neil Warnock and Willie McKay's friendship to breaking point


The late Emiliano Sala’s tragic transfer to Cardiff has pushed Neil Warnock and Willie McKay’s friendship to breaking point

Those with intimate knowledge of the transfer, the real motivation behind the desire to bring Sala to the Premier League, claim it has reached breaking point.

The Cardiff City story is starting to crack.

The rift threatens to lift the lid on some more of the intimate details surrounding Sala’s proposed £15m transfer from Nantes.

One source, speaking to this column on the condition of anonymity, claims the relationship between Warnock and McKay is beyond repair.

He says Warnock’s decision to publicly distance himself from the agent was terminal.

Warnock did this in the days following Sala’s disappearance on Jan 21 and his public utterances have not go down well in McKay’s household.

This column’s source is privy to some of the finer details relating to McKay’s proposed £1.5m – plus another £500,000 if Cardiff stayed up – commission.


He said: “Willie is furious with Neil for what he did.

“To come out and say they were never pals, that they have never been close is a joke – he cannot believe he said that. He signed Willie’s two sons at Cardiff for a start.

“They were on the phone to each other all the time over this deal.

“Everybody is trying to save themselves over Sala.

“They are both friends with Barry Hughes in Scotland for a start – Neil can’t deny that.”

Hughes, boxing promoter, security boss and football agent, is a surprise new name in the Sala story.

He is mentioned, in passing, because Warnock, McKay and Hughes are all friends, but is not involved in the Sala deal.

Cardiff’s manager certainly needed McKay’s unique negotiating skills when Sala was offered to Cardiff in the January window.


Those words tipped McKay over the edge.

On Feb 10, Warnock had claimed: “It’s suggested I am big pals with Willie McKay.

“Am I? I don’t think I am. He is an agent. You need these agents if you want to do a deal.”

They were also enough to travel in and out of France, sitting together in cramped private planes when they watched Sala in action for Nantes.

Details of the cross-channel operation to sign the striker has been made public after Dave Edwards, chief exec of the Air Charter Association, obtained the flight data.

Warnock, along with assistant Kevin Blackwell, travelled to Nantes with McKay and his son Mark on Dec 5, 2018.

After watching Sala play against Marseille in a Ligue 1 fixture, the four flew back to Cardiff the following day.

It is at that point Sala became – in the words used by Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman – “a critical hire”.

A month later, with Warnock pressing Cardiff to get the deal done, he flew out to meet Sala in France.

On Jan 8, in another plane provided by McKay, Cardiff’s manager travelled to Nantes with the agent and son Mark, along with the club’s player liaison Callum Davies.

The aircraft flew back to Cardiff the same day.

Warnock and McKay were on friendly terms then, with Cardiff’s manager sold on the idea of bringing the Argentine forward to the Premier League.

Willie McKay says Emiliano Sala was ‘let down’ by Cardiff in tragic plane crash


These two go back a long, long way.

QPR are still carrying the financial scars of the four-year deal given to McKay’s client Joey Barton in 2011 worth an eye-watering £90,000 a week.

Warnock also claimed he had only signed three players from the McKay stable down the years.

Barton and Sala, along with Sol Bamba, are three he was referring to, but this overlooks his influence into signing McKay’s two sons for Cardiff.

Jack and Paul McKay were signed by the Bluebirds on Warnock’s recommendation, but have recently been spirited away from south Wales.

Warnock is battling on at Cardiff, trying to make sense of it all after the most testing period of his managerial career.

After this, he will have to do it all without Willie.


WITH most high-profile cup competitions there is a long-winded ceremony followed by a random draw pairing teams together.

Then there is the International Champions Cup.

This plastic pre-season event has squeezed itself into the calendar, with the help of a multi-million dollar participation fee heading the way of the world’s biggest clubs.

The draw, if it can be called that, is a rigged event that sends the likes of Manchester United on a marketing mission to Singapore to face Inter on July 20 and Arsenal to the US to play Bayern, Roma and Real Madrid.

There is nothing random about it, with FOMO (fear of missing out) convincing clubs to take part in this charade.


QPR have come up with elaborate plans to move from Loftus Road to the site of the Linford Christie Stadium, on the other side of the A40.

But to convince Hammersmith and Fulham Council of the community benefit, Rangers need to come up with some pro-active recreational initiatives for the development at Old  Oak Common.

Space is at a premium, with 27,000 new homes set to be built.

And QPR’s cause would be advanced if they were committed to playing a long-lasting and influential part in the new community.


THE world has gone potty when commentator Clive Tyldesley gets hammered because he did not hear Montenegro’s racists.

The ITV man, like the majority of the press box, later relied on first-hand accounts from players and managers before the tone of the coverage could change.

Even yesterday, the FA’s website had still not acknowledged the taunts at England’s stars.

In spite of some social media slime’s best efforts, Tyldesley has nothing to apologise for.


LET’S hope Tottenham have something else to celebrate other than the speed of their beer pumps when they get into their new stadium.

Spurs fans have been cooing all week about the magnetic devices that can pour 10,000 pints of ale every minute.

They will get the first proper taste on Wednesday, with envious glances around the world when they play Crystal Palace at their shiny new home.

Not that anyone is bitter, of course.


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