The Championship side are not happy with the Blues proposal to play the game without spectators for matters of “sporting integrity”

Middlesbrough have hit out at Chelseas “bizarre” and “ironic” request to play their FA Cup quarter-final tie behind closed doors.

Chelsea confirmed the request to the Football Association on Tuesday due to the fact they cannot sell tickets to their fans because of sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich by the UK government.

The Blues said they want the game to be played without any fans present for matters of “sporting integrity”, but Middlesbrough are not happy with the suggestion, with their owner Steve Gibson labelling the Premier League side a “rotten football club”.

“We are aware of Chelseas request to have Saturdays EmiratesFA Cup sixth round tieplayed behind closed doors and find their suggestion both bizarre and without any merit whatsoever,” a statement from the club read.

“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 a result that MFC and ourfans 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 Chelseas actions in the strongest terms.”

Gibson said, as quoted by The Telegraph: “We havent made our feelings known to the FA or Chelsea yet, because Chelsea havent contacted me,” he said.

“They havent had the courtesy of telling me this was going to happen, they just took it to the FA. The game is this weekend!

“These sanctions placed upon Chelsea were done so by the Government, not by football, not by Middlesbrough.

“Its got to be kicked out and its abhorrent. This rotten football club, Chelsea. We pick up the newspapers and read about Abramovich and the way he conducted his life, and we see whats going on in Ukraine, and its beyond comprehension. It really is.”

The FA announced on Tuesday that the proposal from the Stamford Bridge side will be discussed at a Professional Game Board meetingon Wednesday.

Chelseas travel plans for the weekend clash are also likely to be disrupted, as it was revealed that they may have to take a bus to Middlesbrough instead of a plane because of limits to how much they can spend on travel to fixtures.

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