Abramovich’s sanctioning means Chelsea is unable to sell any more away tickets for Saturday’s match due to the restrictions on the club.
The UK government added Abramovich, who is selling Chelsea and has been disqualified as the club’s director, to its list of sanctioned individuals as part of its efforts to “isolate” Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Despite sanctions against the Russian oligarch and the club, Chelsea was given a special license to continue playing fixtures, but certain actions are not permitted, such as selling tickets for games beyond those already sold to fans.
Existing season ticket holders are allowed to attend home matches, as well as fans who purchased tickets prior to the UK government’s ruling on March 10.
Describing Chelsea’s request “ironic in the extreme,” Middlesbrough said the club would strongly resist calls to play the match in an empty stadium. Middlesbrough play in the second tier of English football, but have already knocked out Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup this season.
“To suggest as result that MFC and our fans should be penalized is not only grossly unfair but without any foundation.”
Chelsea’s request to play the match without spectators didn’t go down well on social media.
Later on Tuesday, the English Football Association said Chelsea had agreed to remove its request for the game to be played 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,” said a FA spokesperson.