Chelsea call for Middlesbrough tie to be played behind closed doors 'to protect sporting integrity'

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Chelsea have called for Saturday's FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors to "protect sporting integrity" after they were banned from selling tickets.

The Blues have been granted a special licence to continue operating after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the United Kingdom government.

However, as part of the restrictions placed on Chelsea, they are not allowed to sell any tickets that had not already been purchased prior to last week's announcement.

With no away fans in attendance for next weekend's quarter-final at the Riverside Stadium, Chelsea are pushing for home supporters to also be blocked from attending.

The Premier League club provided an update in a statement published on their official website on Tuesday.

It read: "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 recognise 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."

Second-tier Middlesbrough, who eliminated Manchester United and Tottenham in the previous two rounds, have already sold out their allocation of tickets for the last-eight tie.

Chelsea are only permitted to spend around £20,000 on travelling to and from games, meaning that they will make the near-10 hour round journey to Middlesbrough via coach. 

The Blues can fly to France for Wednesday's Champions League tie with Lille due to the travel arrangements already having been put in place.

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