Mon. May 23rd, 2022


Chelsea have requested their FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough this weekend is played behind closed doors amid their ongoing ban over selling matchday tickets.

Chelsea’s ticket sales were halted last Thursday in the wake of Roman Abramovich’s sanctioning by the UK government over his links with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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

In a statement posted on their website, the club said it had been in discussions with the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation about ticket sales for this weekend’s FA Cup meeting at the Riverside, but had been unable to find a breakthrough – and was requesting the game be played behind closed doors as a result.

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Gary Neville says the situation at Chelsea is a ‘wake-up call’ for football, and expects an independent regulator to come in to oversee the sale of clubs in the future.

The statement 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.”

Championship side Middlesbrough, who beat Manchester United and Tottenham to reach this stage, have been contacted for comment.

Sports Minister suggests ticket sales could resume

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.

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Property developer and prospective Chelsea owner Nick Candy says he loves the club and doesn’t mind who takes over as long as it is in safe hands.

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.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s win over Newcastle in the Premier League.

Tuchel: Increasing travel budget not about ‘bling-bling’

Chelsea’s new licence limits the club to spending £20,000 per away match on travel, though the Blues are looking to increase that figure in discussion with the government.

The average Premier League spend per away match comes in at roughly £30,000 and European away fixtures add an extra premium.

Tuchel admitted Chelsea have already had to cut their cloth accordingly ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg in Lille.

But the Blues boss insisted Chelsea’s demands are not about luxury, but instead about elite athletes avoiding possible soft-tissue injuries amid a packed schedule.

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Roman Abramovich is set to face new sanctions from the European Union as it looks likely he will be added to a list of Russian billionaires sanctioned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It isn’t about luxury and bling-bling,” said Tuchel. “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.”





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