Chelsea Withdraw Request To Play FA Cup Tie Against Middlesbrough Behind Closed Doors After Backlash

Chelsea have withdrawn their request to play this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough behind closed doors.

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The Premier League giants faced a major backlash after claiming the game should be played in an empty stadium on the grounds of maintaining sporting integrity, given they are unable to sell tickets to their own fans.

However, after facing widespread criticism, Chelsea have performed a rapid U-turn and will now head to the north east on Saturday with just 450 of their fans in the away end.

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An FA spokesperson said: ‘After constructive talks between the FA and Chelsea, the club has agreed to remove their request for the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final tie against Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors.

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‘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, whilst ensuring sanctions are respected.’
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Saturday’s opponents Middlesbrough led the criticism with the club’s owner, Steve Gibson, claiming the success Chelsea had enjoyed under ousted owner Roman Abramovich was the product of ‘corrupt money’.

The Blues have lobbied the Government hard over relaxations to the strict operating licence put in place after Abramovich was sanctioned by Downing Street.

Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich must not profit in the UK under the Government sanctions and Chelsea are blocked from selling any more tickets under the terms of their new licence.

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Boro did not hold back in their response, claiming it was ‘ironic in the extreme’ that the Blues were seeking to invoke sporting ‘integrity’ as the reason to get the game played at an empty stadium.

The Teessiders said in a statement: ‘We are aware of Chelsea’s request to have Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup sixth-round tie played behind closed doors and find their suggestion both bizarre and without any merit whatsoever.

‘All concerned are well aware of the reasons Chelsea have been sanctioned and that this has nothing to do with Middlesbrough Football Club.

‘To suggest as result that MFC and our fans should be penalised is not only grossly unfair but without any foundation.

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‘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 MFC will resist Chelsea’s actions in the strongest terms.’

Photo Credit: Getty 

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