Chelsea are unable to fly to Middlesbrough and back for their FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, and instead will have to undertake a 10-hour, 536-mile round-trip from their Cobham training base in Surrey to the Riverside Stadium by coach.
The club is still reeling from the UK government’s decision last Thursday to impose sanctions due to owner Roman Abramovich’s close links with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
And those sanctions, including a £20,000 spend on travel costs for away matches, will hit the first team at the weekend.
Chelsea’s next match is on Wednesday night at French outfit Lille in the Champions League last 16. However, with travel arrangements in place before the sanctions were enforced those plans are allowed to remain intact.
Saturday’s trip to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup is the first fixture that will be affected as plans were not in place before the sanctions, hence the impending 10-hour round-trip by coach.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have been told the £20,000 per match cap on travel expenses would not cover the cost of hiring a plane to take them to the Riverside Stadium.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 second-leg clash at Lille, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed that their preparations will differ once their trip to France has concluded.
‘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.
Chelsea will have to travel via a team bus for their FA Cup quarter-final to Middlesbrough after being told they cannot fly following the sanctions imposed on the club by the UK government
The Blues (pictured in January) will be able to travel by plane for Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at Lille as those travel arrangements were made before sanctions
But for the trip on Saturday they will have to undertake a 10-hour round-trip by coach consisting of 536 miles from their Cobham training base in Surrey to the Riverside Stadium
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government last week
Abramovich is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, who ordered Russia’s war against Ukraine
‘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 plane rather than a bus.’
Speaking about the arising travel issues, Kai Havertz insisted he would happily pay out of his own pocket to travel to Middlesbrough and future games as that is irrelevant as long as the fixtures can happen.
‘I would pay, no problem. That’s not a big deal for us,’ he said.
‘To come to the games is the most important. There are harder moments in the world, than [worry about] taking the plane or bus to away games.’
Thomas Tuchel admits ‘it is difficult to arrange things in the best way possible for the FA Cup’
These travel woes are also affecting Chelsea fans. The club had plans to put on a charter train service from London to Middlesbrough but that now isn’t possible either.
‘We can confirm it is not possible to run a charter train service from London to Middlesbrough for our FA Cup quarter-final,’ Chelsea announced last week.
‘Coach travel to the Riverside Stadium and back is on sale at the price of £10. The coaches (including a wheelchair accessible coach) will depart Stamford Bridge at 9.15am and Newport Pagnell at 10.45am on the day of the game, Saturday 19 March.’
It’s just the latest issue Chelsea have to tackle in a tumultuous few weeks.
Kai Havertz says he’d happily pay for himself to travel to Middlesbrough and future games
Abramovich has been sanctioned on the back of his homeland Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian oligarchs have been targeted since the start of the war and Abramovich was a known ally of president Putin.
Abramovich had already lined up to sell the club following the invasion, and he still will be able to do so as long as he doesn’t financially benefit from the sale.
Chelsea must now operate under a stringent government licence, to ensure Abramovich does not profit from it.
The parties interested in bidding for Chelsea have been advised to submit a detailed background report on all investors amid the growing anxieties over appropriate club ownership.
Those intent on making offers ahead of Friday’s bid deadline are also being asked to file comprehensive details of their motives for the club moving forward.
Sources close to the sale say there are as many as 200 interested parties. As it stands, property developer Nick Candy, a consortium led by LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and a group led by British businessman Sir Martin Broughton are among those rated as the most serious contenders.
On Monday, news of a £2.7billion offer from Saudi Media Group emerged.
New York-based merchant bank Raine are advising Chelsea on the sale, while Sportsmail understands Blues director Marina Granovskaia is also offering interested groups guidance during the process.