FA Cup

Chelsea ask for Middlesbrough FA Cup tie to be played behind closed doors

Tom Gott
Chelsea want to play the tie behind closed doors at the Riverside Stadium
Chelsea want to play the tie behind closed doors at the Riverside Stadium / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

Chelsea have requested that their upcoming FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough be played behind closed doors after they were not permitted to sell their full allocation of tickets.

After owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned, Chelsea were hit with a special operating licence that restricts their day-to-day activity, including banning the sale of tickets to anybody who is not already a season ticket holder.

Talks with the Government to change the terms of their licence have been ongoing but failed to reach a positive outcome before the deadline for ticket sales, meaning Chelsea will only be bringing a fraction of their allocated away support.

Claiming an issue with sporting integrity, Chelsea have requested for the match to be played in an empty stadium.

"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," a statement explained.

"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."

The FA confirmed in a statement that they will discuss Chelsea's request at a meeting on Wednesday.

In addition, a senior government source insisted that they were endeavouring to put fans first amid the upheaval, while also blasting the Blues for their statement.

"We are working around the clock to enable Chelsea to continue operating as a club in the interests of the fans,"

"This statement threatening Middlesbrough and the rest of the football league shows they do not seem to understand the seriousness of the situation they are in, being owned by an entity that has been sanctioned because of links to a person responsible for appalling acts in Ukraine.

"We are not opposed to Chelsea having fans at games in the long run, but we will not allow money from ticket sales to flow to a sanctioned entity. Chelsea should spend less time worrying about having a few thousands fans at one game, and focus on moving their club into the hands of someone who isn't linked to a warmonger."