MIDDLESBROUGH slammed Chelsea's "grossly unfair" request to play their FA Cup quarter-final behind closed doors at the Riverside Stadium.
The Blues are banned from selling tickets as part of sanctions imposed on owner Roman Aramovich by the UK government, although the situation regarding away games has yet to be cleared up.
Abramovich has had his assets frozen following Russia's unjust invasion of Ukraine and his alleged ties to president Valdimir Putin.
Therefore, the west Londoners have asked the FA to allow Saturday's game to go ahead without fans "for matters of sporting integrity".
But Middlesbrough will have none of it as they described Chelsea's request as "bizarre" and "ironic in the extreme".
That is why Boro released a statement insisting that they will resist that suggestion "in the strongest terms".
Read more Cheltenham
All eyes on Prestbury Park as the Greatest Show on Turf gets underway
Cheltenham Festival bonus: Get £50 in free bets TODAY with Paddy Power
The statement read: "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.
Most read in Football
REST IN PEACE
Former Scottish footy star Paul Hampshire dies aged 40 after being hit by car
REST IN PEACE
Man Utd owners 'open to DEMOLISHING Old Trafford' with stadium left to rot
Saudi consortium enter Chelsea race with £2.7bn offer to buy Blues
Newcastle transfer boost with Juventus allowing Rabiot to quit this summer
"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."
According to talkSPORT's Simon Jordan, Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson won't agree with Chelsea's request.
In fact, Jordan spoke to Gibson, who believes "sporting integrity and Chelsea are words that don’t go together".
CHELTENHAM FREE BETS AND SIGN UP OFFERS – ALL THE LATEST DEALS FOR THE RACING THIS WEEK
Jordan said on White and Jordan: “It makes no sense. How do you possibly, even in the most obtuse and opaque way, read a room like this if you’re Chelsea?
“Everybody in football right now is looking at you like a pariah, you’re a toxic brand, your own sponsors don’t want anything to do with you and your way of dealing with that is to take a great bit dump in someone else’s pocket financially by saying we don’t want any gate receipts for you in the FA Cup.
“I’ve just spoken to Steve and his expression was that ‘sporting integrity and Chelsea are words that don’t go together’, that’s his reaction.
“They’ve got a playing squad that is worth about £1billion and Middlesbrough have got a team that’s worth a packet of gobstoppers by comparison, so the sporting integrity can even up there.
“You don’t need your fans in the stadium to have your big-time players overcome Middlesbrough.
“It’s an ill-formed, Ill-mannered, ill-educated, uncouth, unedifying response from Chelsea and it just goes to the heart of why people are going to take exception.”
Source: Read Full Article