Chelsea ask for FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors amid government sanctions

Chelsea have urged the Football Association to move Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal at Middlesbrough behind closed doors on grounds of “sporting integrity” after they were denied the chance to sell tickets to away fans.

Chelsea are operating under tight restrictions defined by a special licence granted to the club so they could continue to fulfil fixtures and pay staff despite being a frozen asset of owner Roman Abramovich, one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the U.K government last Thursday for alleged ties to Russia president Vladimir Putin.

Among the limitations is a ban on selling tickets to supporters outside of season tickets and those sold on an individual basis prior to sanctions being announced.

Chelsea have been in dialogue with the U.K. government aiming to ease the restrictions — with some success as, among other concessions, they have had their £500,000 limit on expenditure for staging home games increased to £900,000 — but issued a statement on Tuesday voicing their frustration at a lack of progress elsewhere.

Around 600 Chelsea fans had bought tickets prior to Thursday’s cut-off but they now want Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium to be empty for Saturday’s game.

“We are disappointed to announce we will not be able to sell tickets for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough,” Chelsea said in a statement.

“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 7.30 p.m. last night until 9.30 a.m. [on Tuesday] morning.

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