Chelsea want FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors

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Chelsea want Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors “for matters of sporting integrity”. The government issued a special licence to allow Chelsea to continue playing after freezing the assets of Russian owner Roman Abramovich. Under the terms of the licence, the club cannot sell tickets for matches.

The measure was introduced to stop Abramovich, who is looking to sell the club after being sanctioned by the UK government and banned from being a director, from profiting. Chelsea were not allowed to put tickets on general sale as planned on 10 March, the day the licence came into effect. Chelsea said they made the request to the Football Association “with extreme reluctance” after being unable to sell their full allocation of 4,620 tickets.

A statement read: “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.” Chelsea issued a statement on Monday saying they were talking to the government on a daily basis “in search of a resolution” to the issue of selling tickets for home or away matches.

They said the Premier League and FA had spoken to the government about the potential sporting integrity issues raised if they do not allow Chelsea fans to attend. The government last week granted an amendment to the licence, allowing Chelsea to spend up to £900,000 on costs for home games, up from the £500,000 set on Thursday. The allowable away costs of travel, however, remain at £20,000 per game.

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