Middlesbrough has slammed a bizarre request by Chelsea to play their FA Cup quarter-final behind closed doors. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government last week due to his links with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The club has been allowed to operate using a special license that allows season ticket holders to watch the games. Chelsea has sold 650 of their tickets and believes that they are at a disadvantage. The club believes that playing the match behind closed doors is the fairest way to proceed.
“All concerned are well aware of the reasons Chelsea have been sanctioned and that this has nothing to do with Middlesbrough Football Club,” Middlesbrough said in a statement with regard to their FA Cup tie against Chelsea. “To suggest as a result that Middlesbrough and our fans should be penalized is not only grossly unfair but without any foundation. Given the reasons for these sanctions, for Chelsea to seek to invoke sporting “integrity” as reason for the game being played behind closed doors is ironic in the extreme. We currently await formal notification from the FA of the next steps but rest assured Middlesbrough will resist Chelsea’s actions in the strongest terms.”
“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 said in a statement. “Chelsea FC recognizes 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 license was imposed, but we believe this is the fairest way of proceeding in the current circumstances.”