Chelsea ask for sold-out Middlesbrough FA Cup tie to be played behind closed doors due to sanctions
Chelsea cannot sell any tickets due to sanctions imposed by the government on owner Roman Abramovich.
The quarter-final match is at the Riverside, and home tickets have already completely sold out.
Chelsea said that some fans had already bought away tickets, however they had not sold their full allocation due to the sanctions on Abramovich.
The club released a statement today calling on the FA to play the match behind closed doors for “matters of sporting integrity”.
Chelsea said: “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.”
This begs the question, whether Chelsea will ask for all their fixtures for the rest of the season to be played behind closed doors.
The club cannot sell any further tickets, due to sanctions against Roman Abramovich by the government which prevents the club making any money.
Only season ticket holders will able to attend matches, and the club also won’t be able to sign players or offer new contracts.
An FA spokesperson said: “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.”