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Chelsea have agreed to drop their request for their FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors, it has been announced.

There was uncertainty over Chelsea ability to sell their away allocation for Saturday’s tie, which is live on talkSPORT, following sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich.

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The Riverside Stadium clash will be played with fans in attendance

This prompted the club to ask the Football Association for the match to be played without fans ‘for matters of sporting integrity.’

However, the request has been widely criticised, including from Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson, who labelled the move as ‘pathetic.’

And the decision has since been taken for Chelsea to retract their request.

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.

“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.”

The FA agreeing to Chelsea’s request always appeared unlikely with the government even saying there was ‘no reason’ why the match should be played behind closed doors.


Chelsea have been unable to sell tickets ever since government sanctions were imposed on Abramovich on March 10 amid Russia’s war with Ukraine

Chelsea have been unable to sell tickets ever since government sanctions were imposed on Abramovich on March 10 amid Russia’s war with Ukraine

Simon Jordan delivered his reaction to the initial announcement on White and Jordan, and didn’t hold back in his view of Chelsea’s move.

“It makes no sense,” said the outspoken pundit.

“How do you possibly, even in the most obtuse and opaque way, read a room like this if you’re Chelsea?

“Everybody in football right now is looking at you like a pariah, you’re a toxic brand, your own sponsors don’t want anything to do with you and your way of dealing with that is to take a great bit dump in someone else’s pocket financially by saying we don’t want any gate receipts for you in the FA Cup.

“I’ve just spoken to Steve [Gibson] and his expression was that ‘sporting integrity and Chelsea are words that don’t go together’, that’s his reaction.”

Chelsea’s request proved to be a PR disaster, with Boro owner Gibson calling the move ‘pathetic’

Chelsea’s request proved to be a PR disaster, with Boro owner Gibson calling the move ‘pathetic’

“It makes so sense why Chelsea would want to do this,” Jordan continued.

“They’ve got a playing squad that is worth about £1billion and Middlesbrough have got a team that’s worth a packet of gobstoppers by comparison, so the sporting integrity can even up there.

“You don’t need your fans in the stadium to have your big-time players overcome Middlesbrough.

“It’s an ill-formed, ill-mannered, ill-educated, uncouth, unedifying response from Chelsea and it just goes to the heart of why people are going to take exception.”


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