Let’s be generous and call it a stunt. “Not the very best idea”, as Thomas Tuchel put it.
Either way, Chelsea’s little stunt yesterday with the Middlesborough tickets has seemingly gotten us at least one concession from the UK government, who have reportedly waived the spending cap for this Saturday’s away trip in the FA Cup quarterfinals, as per the Telegraph. With the £20k limit no longer in place, Chelsea will be able to take a much shorter plane trip rather than spending a day riding a bus back and forth — which would’ve had an impact on pre-match preparations given the short turnaround time from last night’s game in Lille.
So that’s the good news.
Exclusive: Chelsea given green light to fly to FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough.— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) March 16, 2022
Plus, Q&A: What do EU sanctions mean for Chelsea's Champions League future? | @ben_rumsbyhttps://t.co/pqCgdK0sjG
The bad news is that we remain unable to sell (new) tickets, which means that only about 700 away fans will be at the Riverside on Saturday, with Chelsea returning the rest of our 4500 allocation to Boro. And while the home match against Brentford on April 2 is already sold out, games beyond that will start seeing dwindling numbers (unless something changes).
UK Government/DCMS are working to ensure Chelsea don’t have any problems with tickets after the international break. There’s an appetite to get it resolved. There’s a possibility #CFC have an owner decided by Brentford (h) anyway. #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 16, 2022
And it’s not just domestic competitions that are now affected, with the European Union also levying sanctions on Roman Abramovich yesterday. While that briefly caused some concern that we wouldn’t be allowed to play, it sounds like that’s just a licensing issue (similar to the UK’s solution). But even once that’s sorted out for good — and hopefully in a way that keeps us in the competition unlike the actual Russia-based teams — we are facing the prospect of no ticket sales and thus possibly an empty stadium for the home leg of the upcoming quarterfinal.
As the Telegraph’s report also notes however, we seem to be making good progress in the club’s sale, and once Abramovich is out of the picture, the sanctions and restrictions placed on Chelsea should be lifted as well. The current timeline may be a bit optimistic, but we’re still looking on track for the transaction to be finalized or at least satisfactorily in motion by the end of the month, which should come in time for the quarterfinals (April 5-6 first leg, April 12-13 second leg).