Chelsea want FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors after Abramovich sanctions
LONDON: Chelsea have asked for Saturday's (Mar 19) FA Cup quarter-final game at Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors for "sporting integrity" because they are unable to sell tickets due to restrictions imposed by a British government licence.
Chelsea, who have made the request to the Football Association (FA) board, are dealing with government restrictions on their operations after sanctions were imposed on their Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
The London club said that they were in "extensive discussions" with the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation but could not make amendments to the licence in time to sell tickets to Chelsea fans for Saturday's game at the Riverside Stadium.
"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," the Premier League club said in a statement on Tuesday.
"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."
Reuters has contacted the FA for comment.
The European champions lost the League Cup final to Liverpool on penalties last month, but are in the last 16 of the Champions League, where they visit Lille on Wednesday leading 2-0 from the first leg.
They are third in the Premier League with 59 points from 28 games, 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.