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Chelsea scraps bid to close game to fans

LONDON (AP) – Chelsea withdrew its request to play its FA Cup game against Middlesbrough without a crowd, the Football Association (FA) said on Tuesday following pushback from the club hosting the match.

The Premier League team had proposed no fans because the government won’t allow Chelsea to sell any tickets under the terms of its licence to operate after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned.

“After constructive talks between the FA and Chelsea, the club has agreed to remove (its) request… (for the quarterfinal) to be played behind closed doors,” the FA said in a statement.

Chelsea had said it made the request to protect the “sporting integrity” of Saturday’s match after being unable to convince the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation to ease the terms of its license ahead of the game.

Middlesbrough would have lost out on revenue and had argued it would be “grossly unfair” to prevent its fans from going to the game at its stadium.

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