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Chelsea withdraws request to play without fans 

English Premier League club Chelsea has withdrawn its request to play its FA Cup quarter final at Middlesbrough behind closed doors.

Chelsea had originally asked the English Football Association (The FA) to play at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium without fans, as the club is not able to sell new tickets to the match, to maintain “sporting integrity”.

The London club is currently unable to sell tickets as its Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, has been sanctioned and all assets have been frozen by the UK Government. This resulted in Chelsea only selling around 500 to 600 tickets for the game out of its 4,620 allocation before the licence came into effect March 10.

The licence allows Chelsea to continue to fulfil fixtures, which can be attended by current ticket holders and season ticket holders only, pay staff and sell food at matches for attendees. Like ticketing, the club can not make any more money from selling merchandise.

Middlesbrough had originally sold out its initial allocation for Saturday’s match, but has now added an extra 3,200 tickets for sale as Chelsea has returned its tickets to the club. The Championship club had branded Chelsea’s request as “bizarre” and without “merit” in a statement.

The FA 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.”

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