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Chelsea request FA Cup game at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors

Chelsea request FA Cup game at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors
Chelsea are unable to sell away tickets for the fixture at the Riverside Stadium and claimed “sporting integrity” was at risk by allowing home supporters to attend

切尔西 have asked for Saturday’s FA Cup match at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors after confirming that they are unable to sell any more away tickets for the fixture due to the sanctions placed on owner Roman Abramovich.

A statement from Chelsea said that while the club “recognises that such an outcome would have a huge impact on Middlesbrough” they would be making the request to the FA as “sporting integrity” was at risk.

The FA said they were aware of Chelsea’s request and would discuss the matter at a meeting of the professional game board on Wednesday.

Chelsea are seeking amendments to the operation license handed to them by the UK Government that has allowed the club to continue with “football-related activities” but they are not allowed to make money through the selling of match tickets or club merchandise. The Premier League club said discussions had been held on allowing a full contingent of away supporters to make the trip to the Riverside Stadium for the match on Saturday evening but that a deadline had passed without the necessary changes being made.

The FA Cup quarter-final is set to be the biggest match of Middlesbrough’s season after the Championship side defeated Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to reach the last eight of the competition. Middlesbrough, who have sold out the Riverside Stadium, responded with a strongly-worded statement in which they labelled Chelsea’s request as “bizarre and without merit”.

The club’s chairman, Steve Gibson, also called Chelsea “pathetic” over the statement while the former Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux said on Twitter, “I can’t think of a more embarrassing statement to come out of the club that I played for for 12 [年]. Either ignorant or arrogant. I am confident it doesn’t represent the feelings of the coaching and playing staff.”

The Chelsea statement read: “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.”