Chelsea has withdrawn their request to play Middlesbrough in an FA Cup tie behind closed doors


    Chelsea has withdrawn a request for the FA Cup fixture against Middlesbrough on Saturday to be played behind closed doors, according to the Football Association.

    Chelsea has withdrawn their request to play Middlesbrough in an FA Cup tie behind closed doors

    Following the government’s freezing of Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s assets, the Premier League club is unable to sell tickets for any upcoming matches.

    Chelsea originally requested the information “for the sake of sports integrity.”

    “The club has agreed to withdraw their request following fruitful conversations between the FA and Chelsea,” the FA said.

    “The FA is continuing to work with Chelsea, the Premier League, and the government to find a solution that allows both Chelsea and away fans to attend games at Stamford Bridge while ensuring sanctions are adhered to.”

    Chelsea expressed its gratitude for the FA’s “ongoing attempts to assist us in finding a solution.”

    The government is working with football authorities to allow more Chelsea fans to attend away games, but any adjustments must ensure “no more revenue can be raised given the club is owned by an individual already sanctioned in the UK,” according to the prime minister’s official spokesman.

    Middlesbrough have released an additional 3,200 tickets to its fans after Chelsea returned them to the club due to government sanctions.

    The Championship club had stated that they would “in the strongest possible terms” contest the “bizarre” and “ironic” request to play the quarter-final behind closed doors, which was expected to be debated at an FA meeting on Wednesday.

    “Chelsea and sports integrity do not belong in the same phrase,” Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson told the Athletic before the proposal was abandoned.

    Chelsea has withdrawn their request to play Middlesbrough in an FA Cup tie behind closed doors

    “Where is the intelligence of Bruce Buck, Chelsea’s chairman, who has been an apologist for his owner, where the trophies won over the past 19 years have come from Abramovich’s corrupt money?” Gibson went on to say.

    “Where is the chairman of Chelsea’s intelligence when it comes to playing his games in front of his season-ticket holders at home?” Is he planning to play all of his away games in venues that are nearly empty?

    “Abramovich has been booted from football, and Bruce Buck should be booted as well.”

    The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust has previously requested that the proposal be withdrawn, claiming that it “does not assist” any fans.

    Chelsea wanted to keep their ‘sporting integrity’ intact

    Chelsea had sold between 500 and 600 tickets out of a total of 4,620 before the club’s license restrictions took effect on March 10th.

    The safeguard was put in place to prevent oligarch Roman Abramovich from benefitting from the sale of Chelsea.

    After the UK government sanctioned him for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he was barred from becoming a club director and the sale of Chelsea was postponed.

    Chelsea stated they approached the FA with “great reluctance” and asked to play Saturday’s game behind closed doors “for reasons of sports integrity.”

    “We recognize that such an outcome would have a huge impact on Middlesbrough and its supporters, as well as our own fans who have already purchased the limited number of tickets that were sold before the license was imposed,” Chelsea said in a statement. “However, we believe this is the fairest way to proceed in the current circumstances.”

    “To suggest as a result that MFC and our fans should be penalized is not only extremely unfair but without any substance,” Middlesbrough, who have knocked out Premier League giants Manchester United and Tottenham in this year’s competition, reacted.

    Chelsea has withdrawn their request to play Middlesbrough in an FA Cup tie behind closed doors

    “Given the reasons for these punishments, Chelsea’s attempt to use sporting ‘purity’ as justification for the game being played behind closed doors is ridiculous.”


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