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Fans hit out at Chelsea’s FA Cup request for game against Middlesbrough

Fans have hit out at Chelsea’s FA Cup request, which is to play the tie behind closed doors against Middlesbrough this weekend.

The Blues, who can’t travel to the North by plane, but instead by coach, have urged the FA to consider this for their FA Cup quarter-final at Boro amid their ongoing ban over selling matchday tickets.

Chelsea’s ticket sales were stopped last Thursday due to Roman Abramovich’s sanctioning by the UK government over his links with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The club are only allowed to continue operating through a special licence granted by the government, and this permits existing ticket holders to attend matches, however new sales – including home and away matchday tickets – have not been allowed.

Between 500 and 600 away tickets had been sold out of an allocation of 4,600 and Chelsea claim they are now at a sporting disadvantage and believe a behind-closed-doors game would “the fairest way of proceeding in the current circumstances”.

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson says the words ‘sporting integrity’ and Chelsea ‘do not belong in the same sentence’. He adds that it’s abhorrent and has to be kicked out.

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An FA statement said: “We are aware of Chelsea FC’s request to play their Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final tie against Middlesbrough FC behind closed doors. The matter will be discussed at the Professional Game Board meeting tomorrow [Weds].”

Chelsea have been in talks with the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation about ticket sales for the game, though aren’t unable to find a breakthrough as yet – and a request to give tickets away to fans for free has not been answered by the government.

In a statement on their website, they said: “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.”

However a few hours later, another statement emerged – “After constructive talks between the FA and Chelsea, the club has agreed to remove their request,” the FA said.

“The FA remains in ongoing discussions with Chelsea, the Premier League and the government to find a solution that would enable both Chelsea fans to attend games and away fans to attend Stamford Bridge, while ensuring sanctions are respected.”

Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone gave evidence to the Department of Media, Culture and Sport select committee on Tuesday and said the government may amend its licence to allow Chelsea to sell tickets, so long as Abramovich does not profit from the move.

He said: “The measures we have taken and the licence we have given to Chelsea is to precisely stop [Chelsea going out of business]. It is to allow Chelsea still to play, for staff to still be paid, to honour ticket sales already, and we are discussions with Chelsea and the fans to see if we can allow further ticket sales, because we want the sanctions to hit those we intend to hit and not others.

“We are looking at options. But there will be consequences of sanctions. Roman Abramovich has links to Vladimir Putin, and le’s not forget this is because of in invasion of a sovereign nation where people are dying.

“But we want to ensure the sanctions hit those we intend to hit and there is minimal impact elsewhere. But there will be inconvenience as a result. We would welcome the sale (of the club) and we would change the licence to enable that sale, and that would be important for Chelsea.”

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“Chelsea have been in talks daily with the government, saying these restrictions to sell tickets are unfair and need to be relaxed. They were even willing to give away 4,000 tickets away for free to their fans, but have not heard back from the government.

“I don’t think Chelsea are expecting Middlesbrough or the FA to agree to play this game behind closed doors. They understand a lot of Middlesbrough fans have bought tickets for the game and it’s a big occasion for them.

“I think this is about applying a little bit of pressure on the government, saying this is the situation, you need to let us sell tickets because we can’t carry on like this.

“Separately is the issue that Chelsea can only spend £20,000 on away travel. If that is in place on Saturday, Chelsea will not be able to get to Middlesbrough and return in the fashion they are used to. They could all get on a coach, drive there and back – but normally it would cost a club the kind of Chelsea something like £60,000 to travel to Middlesbrough and back.”

www.fanbanter.co.uk – Fan reaction to the latest football news, gossip & funnies

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel insists that Chelsea’s demands are not about luxury, but instead about elite athletes avoiding possible soft-tissue injuries amid a packed schedule.

“It isn’t about luxury and bling-bling,” he said. “This is just a professional level of sports, where we play with two days between matches with our opponent having four days between matches and we arrive with the possibilities of injuries.

“For that, it is better to arrive with a plane rather than a bus.

“From my understanding, we have a framework to go and play in Lille with absolutely no excuses.

“Regarding these organisations, it is already more difficult to arrange things on a professional level, in the best way possible, for the FA Cup.

“But we will deal with it. As long as we have shirts and are ‘alive’ as a team, we will be competitive and fight hard for our success.

“We owe it to the people who support us. Of course, we are in the spotlight and it is our responsibility to do so. We will do it.”

As mentioned, fans hit out at Chelsea’s FA Cup request for game against Middlesbrough…

@TomYoungSJ: If I stole a car, should the police also arrest my completely innocent next-door neighbour who had absolutely nothing to do with the crime?

@HLTCO: The audacity of an official statement from Chelsea asking for Middlesbrough fans (whose club have got no part of this whole saga whatsoever) to be unable to go to an FA Cup Quarter-Final in their own ground is absolutely stunning. I can’t believe they’ve actually said it.

@SteveLTurner: Didn’t complain about sporting integrity when you were allowed 2000 fans in vs Leeds who weren’t allowed any, back in December 2020

@ClarkRDanny: Request a game to be played behind closed doors and rob a Championship club of the finances involved? Stay classy Chelsea

@DBNewtons: Crying about sporting integrity after joining the Super League 😂

@StattoLFC: So you want to financially impact a smaller club because your owner has been found out? Yeah that’ll go down well.

@GoonerAndrew77: So Middlesbrough should pay the price because of who your owner was? On the same note will you be asking for all your home games to be BCD because away fans can’t attend? PS: Chelsea talking about “sporting integrity” is hilarious by the way.

@Bonetti: I’m not surprised that there’s little empathy or thought for a second division side like Boro to cash in on their biggest game of the season. After all, we’re not even a year removed from the Super League debacle which would’ve likely been the end for clubs like Middlesbrough

@SwansBlog: If you want to play this game behind closed doors because you can’t have fans at the games, then surely your home games where away fans cant attend should be treated similarly?

@danamalt: looooool zero regard for boro

@Rogers27P: Props to Middlesbrough for extending the deadline. But honestly, our players should be able to deal with Middlesbrough support and play against that. Shouldn’t be played Behind Closed Doors for the sake of their fans enjoying a good competitive game

@AnfieldFlair: Why should Middlesbrough suffer?

@Pckinho: There’s no way. Why should our fans get robbed of our first quarter final in years?

@craigrees9: Couldn’t they allow Boro to sell tickets separately to away fans, but allow Boro to keep the proceeds of those sales, or alternatively, the FA could sell away tickets independently to Chelsea fans, and give the proceeds to charity?

@Weysider: ‘Sporting integrity’. For a club that has lived off dirty money and stretched every rule to the limit over the past 20 years, this is hilarious.

@CFCAway_: Middlesbrough shouldn’t have to play an FA Cup tie behind closed doors. If Chelsea aren’t allowed to sell tickets for the away end, they should be given away for free. Neither club’s FANS should have to suffer. Let’s get it right.

@AnfieldRd96: Chelsea asking Middlesbrough, a club that has no connection to what’s happening right now to play their FA Cup Quarter-Final behind closed doors.What a sh*t club.

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