London (AFP) – Middlesbrough will donate their share of gate receipts from Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea to humanitarian aid in Ukraine, the club announced on Friday.
European champions Chelsea are operating under a special licence allowing them to fulfil fixtures despite the UK government sanctions placed on owner Roman Abramovich in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin.
However, the Blues have not been allowed to sell tickets to fans and initially requested that their clash with Middlesbrough was played behind closed doors on sporting integrity grounds.
That request was quickly withdrawn amid a backlash from politicians, the football authorities and Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson.
“Sporting integrity and Chelsea do not belong in the same sentence,” Gibson told The Times.
In a statement, the Championship club said: “On behalf of the people of Middlesbrough and Teesside, Middlesbrough Football Club will donate its share of the gate receipts from the Emirates FA Cup sixth round tie against Chelsea to humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
“The club’s Member of Parliament Andy McDonald will assist with due diligence to ensure best delivery and maximum impact.”
Earlier on Friday, Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder said he had little sympathy for Chelsea’s predicament.
Abramovich’s investment fuelled an unprecedented era of success for the Blues as they won 19 trophies in the past 19 years, including five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues.
A deadline for bids to buy Chelsea were to be submitted to American merchant bank Raine by Friday.
“It will go up for sale and it will be bought by a billionaire, who will possibly invest more money into it,” said Wilder.
“They’ll possibly invest in the stadium, invest in the facilities, so I don’t think there’s, in the football world, an incredible amount of sympathy over what’s happening.”
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