The chairman of Middlesbrough FC Steve Gibson has responded vehemently to the rather ludicrous request from Chelsea to play their upcoming FA Cup tie on Teeside behind closed doors.
Due to sanctions imposed on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the club are not permitted to sell any tickets that have not already been sold, meaning the attendance of Chelsea fans at the game will be much lower than anticipated, and possibly nil.
Unusually, Chelsea requested the match be played behind closed doors today.
Chelsea released a statement today saying that:
“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.”
Gibson hit back with no regard for any unspoken rules of civility which may be expected of club chairmen, as he passionately defended 'Boro against the Premier League giants, when speaking to George Caulkin at the Athletic.
“Chelsea and sporting integrity do not belong in the same sentence. Where is the intellect of Bruce Buck, the chairman of Chelsea, who has been an apologist for his owner, where the trophies won over 19 years have come from the corrupt money provided by Abramovich?”
“Where is the intellect of the chairman of Chelsea when it comes to playing his games at home in front of his season ticket holders? Does he want to play all his away games at empty stadiums?”
“We’re not going to try and help them anymore. Abramovich has been kicked out of football and Bruce Buck should be kicked out of football, too.”
Middlesbrough had also gone out of their way previously to help Chelsea by extending the deadline for ticket sales and stadium allocation.
Middlesbrough also released a further statement club which stated as follows:
“We are aware of Chelsea’s request to have Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup sixth round tie played behind closed doors and find their suggestion both bizarre and without any merit whatsoever. All concerned are well aware of the reasons Chelsea have been sanctioned and that this has nothing to do with Middlesbrough Football Club.
“To suggest as result that MFC and our fans should be penalised is not only grossly unfair but without any foundation. Given the reasons for these sanctions, for Chelsea to seek to invoke sporting ‘integrity’ as reason for the game being played behind closed doors is ironic in the extreme. We currently await formal notification from the FA of the next steps but rest assured MFC will resist Chelsea's actions in the strongest terms.”
After coming under some serious fire, it would soon emerge that Chelsea had withdrawn their request.
— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) March 15, 2022
In all, a very poor look for the Premier League club.