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Chelsea ask for FA Cup quarter-final clash with Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors due to ticket sale sanctions

8:39 AM EDT 3/15/22
Kai Havertz Chelsea
The Blues are, as a result of restrictions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich, unable to sell tickets to fans hoping to make a trip to the Riverside

Chelsea have requested that their FA Cup quarter-final clash with Middlesbrough take place behind closed doors in order to uphold the “sporting integrity” of the competition, with the Blues being prevented from selling tickets to their fans.

As a result of sanctions imposed on club owner Roman Abramovich by the UK government, the Premier League outfit are banned from generating funds of any kind that could benefit the Russian billionaire.

That means tickets cannot be sold to any supporters hoping to make the trip to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, with Chelsea of the opinion that the playing field should be levelled as home followers are also locked out.

What has been said?

A statement on Chelsea’s official website reads: “We are disappointed to announce we will not be able to sell tickets for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough.

“Despite engaging in extensive discussions with the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), the deadline to purchase away tickets has passed without appropriate amendments being made to the Government licence which would allow a full allocation of Chelsea supporters to attend. Executives at Middlesbrough had been kind enough to extend their deadline for ticket sales and stadium allocation from 7.30pm last night until 9.30am this morning.

“It is important for the competition that the match against Middlesbrough goes ahead, however it is with extreme reluctance that we are asking the FA board to direct that the game be played behind closed doors for matters of sporting integrity. Chelsea FC recognises that such an outcome would have a huge impact on Middlesbrough and its supporters, as well as our own fans who have already bought the limited number of tickets that were sold before the licence was imposed, but we believe this is the fairest way of proceeding in the current circumstances.

“We will continue to discuss the issue of ticket sales with OFSI as there are a number of fixtures still to be played this season and we hope to reach a resolution.”

How has the Football Association responded?

A statement from the FA reads: “We are aware of Chelsea FC's request to play their Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final tie against Middlesbrough FC behind closed doors.

"The matter will be discussed at the Professional Game Board meeting tomorrow [Wednesday].”

The bigger picture

Chelsea are unable to sell matchday tickets of any kind to those supporters that do not hold season cards at Stamford Bridge.

They have also been forced to close their club shop, while matchday programmes cannot be sold at home games until sanctions are lifted or Abramovich completes a sale of the club.

He is in the process of trying to push a deal through, with several interested parties having until Friday to lodge best and final bids.

Chelsea will have been in Champions League action again by then, as they prepare to take in a trip to Lille on Wednesday, while an ongoing pursuit of domestic glory will see them pay a visit to Teesside regardless of the fact that a loyal fan base will not be in attendance to cheer them on.

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