Chelsea bid for FA Cup tie to be played behind closed doors due to ticket sale ban after Abramovich sanctions

The move comes after the Government blocked Chelsea from selling tickets for their FA Cup quarter-final clash

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Chelsea want Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough at the Riverside played behind closed doors.

The Blues have lobbied the Government hard over relaxations to the strict operating licence put in place after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by Downing Street.

The Russian billionaire, who has links to Vladimir Putin, must not profit in the UK under the Government sanctions, and Chelsea are blocked from selling any more tickets in the terms of their new licence.

And after talks with the Government failed to yield a softening on that stance, the Blues have now questioned the FA Cup quarter-final’s “sporting integrity” should Chelsea fans be barred from attending.

Sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich sits in a VIP lounge before a jet linked to him took off for Istanbul from Ben Gurion international airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 14, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer  ISRAEL OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN ISRAEL
Sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich sits in a VIP lounge before a jet linked to him took off for Istanbul from Ben Gurion international airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 14, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer ISRAEL OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN ISRAEL
A worker begins to paint over graffiti on hoardings outside Chelsea Football Club's stadium, Stamford Bridge, following Britain's imposing of sanctions on the club's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, in London, Britain, March 12, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
A worker begins to paint over graffiti on hoardings outside Chelsea Football Club's stadium, Stamford Bridge, following Britain's imposing of sanctions on the club's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, in London, Britain, March 12, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

A statement 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.”

Hitting back, Middlesbrough FC released the following statement: "All concerned are well aware of the reasons Chelsea have been sanctioned and that this has nothing to do with Middlesbrough Football Club.

"To suggest as result that MFC and our fans should be penalised is not only grossly unfair but without any foundation.

"Given the reasons for these sanctions, for Chelsea to seek to invoke sporting 'integrity' as reason for the game being played behind closed doors is ironic in the extreme.

"We currently await formal notification from the FA of the next steps but rest assured MFC will resist Chelsea's actions in the strongest terms."