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The gloves are off as Chelsea try to fight back Re ticket sales (UPDATED)

Spoiler alert: to no avail

Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Chelsea take on Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium next weekend in the quarterfinals of this year’s FA Cup, but we will have to do so with just 500 of our 4500 away ticket allocation sold. Those 500 are the number that were sold before the UK government announced their sanctions on Roman Abramovich, and issued a General Licence for Chelsea to continue operating but without selling any tickets, home or away.

The club have been working non-stop with the government to try to amend the Licence and allow for matchday income more in line with standard operations to help keep the club afloat during this time of ownership transition, but for reasons that are starting to feel very personal, the powers that be refuse to do so. They claim that they don’t want funds coming in to a frozen asset, but at the same time are okay with funds coming in from broadcast revenues and already existing contractual obligations — none of which go to benefit the outgoing owner, and are being used to pay for the seven-figure matchday and travel expenses.

After asking nicely and being turned away repeatedly*, Chelsea tried a desperation move today by asking for Saturday’s game to be played behind closed doors for “integrity”. Understandably, that caused some less than positive reaction from our opponents, but more pertinently it also revealed the government’s true colors in their reported responses to it. Oh, and obviously it’s not happening, and surely no one at Chelsea actually believed that this would be an actual good thing — at least I hope so. (Sorry, Boro.)

*according to the Guardian, Chelsea even offered to give away tickets for free, which the government didn’t even deem to acknowledge with a response.

UPDATE: The request for closed doors has been withdrawn now in fact. Time for cooler heads to prevail. You know when The FA are the voice of reason, it’s a strange time to be alive!

Here’s a “senior source” basically (once again) accusing the club of dropping bombs on Ukraine and believing that by so generously making it barely possible for Chelsea to keep functioning as a top flight club, they are helping the victims of the war.

“Their (Chelsea’s) focus has been throughout that they just want to sell more tickets and to be able to run as normal, but we’re not just going to allow them to put more money into a club that is linked to a warmonger.

“They have not woken up and smelled the coffee. The reality is there hasn’t been enough time to sort it out to allow them to sell more tickets for the weekend’s game, if we had a couple more days then it might have been possible. We’re getting this pressure from Chelsea about tickets, when what we’re trying to do is keep the club afloat.

“We are working on a daily basis to make sure that Chelsea can just keep playing football, that it’s banks keep supporting it. They need to realise just how dire a situation they are in rather than criticising those that are trying to keep them afloat.

“We have been very clear that the overall objective of the Government is that the club must be sanction compliant. The fans are obviously not going to be overly happy about this process, but there were always going to be empty seats at games due to the sanctions.”

Far be it from Chelsea to expect the government’s supposed intentions (to impact Abramovich rather than the fans) align with their actual actions. You can’t blame the sanctions/Licence tying your hands when you’re the ones deciding on the terms of the sanctions/Licence! What sort of idiocracy is this?

And here’s another brainiac, too, not understanding how the sales process works.

“Chelsea should spend less time worrying about a few thousand fans at one game, and focus on moving their club into the hands of someone who isn’t linked to a warmonger.”

-Another senior government source: Politico via iNews

Yes, hi, hello. That’s already happening. Chelsea aren’t in control of that process, because you froze them. Raine Group are handling it. Surely you knew this as someone in power making decisions that impact many people but very few, if any named Roman Abramovich or (and especially) Vladimir Putin.

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Here’s Chelsea statement in full, which is certainly not a good look, but when you back someone into a corner, who knows what sort of response you might get...

We are disappointed to announce we will not be able to sell tickets for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough.

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.

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