Chelsea have announced they will not be able to sell tickets for their FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough on Saturday after failing to amend the terms of their Government licence.
The Blues were handed a special licence by the Government last week after owner Roman Abramovich’s assets were frozen due to his link to Russian president Vladimir Putin, a seismic move which has left the club in limbo.
As a result of Abramovich’s sanctioning, they are currently unable to buy or sell players, renew player contracts, spend more than £20,000 on match travel and sell tickets or merchandise.
Chelsea have announced they cannot sell tickets for their FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough
Only season ticket holders and fans who have already purchased tickets can attend matches while Abramovich remains owner, meaning supporters will be absent for a number of matches.
Chelsea have been in talks with the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation over amending their licence to allow new tickets to be sold for Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Middlesbrough, but the club have revealed those discussions were unsuccessful.
And after missing the deadline to purchase away tickets, they are now calling for the game to be played behind closed doors at the Riverside Stadium.
‘We are disappointed to announce we will not be able to sell tickets for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough,’ a Chelsea statement says.
The Blues have been left in limbo after owner Roman Abramovich’s assets were frozen
They are now unable to sell new match tickets while Abramovich remains owner of the club
Chelsea are now calling for Saturday’s clash with Boro to be played behind closed doors
‘Despite engaging in extensive discussions with the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), the deadline to purchase away tickets has passed without appropriate amendments being made to the Government licence which would allow a full allocation of Chelsea supporters to attend.
‘Executives at Middlesbrough had been kind enough to extend their deadline for ticket sales and stadium allocation from 7.30pm last night until 9.30am this morning.
‘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.
‘We will continue to discuss the issue of ticket sales with OFSI as there are a number of fixtures still to be played this season and we hope to reach a resolution.’
Middlesbrough have already sold out their full allocation for this weekend’s cup tie
But Chelsea believe it should be played behind closed doors due to ‘sporting integrity’
Chelsea received an allocation of 4,620 tickets for their trip to the Riverside, which has a capacity of 34,742, and have already sold roughly 600 tickets to away season ticket holders and hospitality season ticket holders.
Middlesbrough have fully sold out their allocation for this weekend’s FA Cup tie.
The extent of Chelsea’s sanctions means they are even prevented from selling free tickets for club legend Peter Bonetti’s memorial service at Stamford Bridge on Friday 18 March, as it is still technically classed as a transaction.
Yet, tickets are not the only issue Chelsea have regarding Saturday’s game at Middlesbrough, as Thomas Tuchel’s side are also facing a 10-hour round-trip coach journey to North Yorkshire.
Their next outing comes away at Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday night, and with travel arrangements already in place before sanctions were imposed those plans are allowed to remain intact.
The Blues will have to travel to North Yorkshire via a 10-hour round-trip coach journey
Thomas Tuchel insists he and his players are prepared to do whatever is necessary
Travel for Saturday’s trip to Middlesbrough had not already been arranged, however, meaning the £20,000 budget would not cover the cost of hiring a plane.
Tuchel and Co must therefore embark on a 10-hour coach journey to the Riverside, which the Chelsea head coach insists they are prepared to do.
‘We want to find solutions, we want to play the match on Saturday as much as we want to play in the Champions League,’ he said.
‘We have a framework to play in Lille with no excuses. It is difficult to arrange things in the best way possible for the FA Cup, but we will deal with it.
‘It isn’t about luxury and bling-bling. This is just a pro 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 plan rather than a bus.’