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£20k travel cap Chelsea face 10-hour round trip for Middlesbrough clash as sanctions take hold on players

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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

Chelsea are facing a gruelling 10-hour-plus round trip to Middlesbrough and back for their FA Cup quarter-final after not booking flights for the game before owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It is understood a £20,000-per-match cap imposed by the UK government on the European champions’ travel expenses would not cover the cost of hiring a plane to take them to Saturday’s fixture.

The club were also said to be arguing that the figure would be insufficient for reasonable alternative travel arrangements to be made for the players and staff they would normally take to an away game.

While it may appear unthinkable that a way could not be found to get Chelsea to and from the game under budget, they are expected to lobby hard to get the cap raised so they can do so in some degree of comfort.

Their players have to travel to Middlesbrough barely two days after arriving back from tomorrow night’s Champions League last-16 second leg at Lille.

The club managed to book their travel for the Lille match before the cap was imposed.

Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea head coach, said last week: “My last information is we have a plane and we can go by plane and come back by plane. If not, we go by train; if not, by bus; if not, I will drive a seven-seater.”

Chelsea and the UK government declined to comment on the Middlesbrough travel issue but a Westminster source said there was still time to rule on any request to raise the cap on expenses.

The club announced yesterday that they were lobbying ministers to lift the ban on selling tickets for Saturday’s game and beyond.

Declaring they had the support of the Premier League and Football Association, they said: “We are pressing the government to allow our supporters to have access to tickets. Meetings are taking place daily in search of a resolution.

“In addition, the Premier League and FA are also discussing with the government the sporting integrity issues raised if they do not permit fans to attend.

“We are aware of the high level of frustration our supporters are facing over this issue, and we are doing everything we can to resolve it as soon as possible.”

Chelsea sold several hundred tickets for Saturday’s game before the ban was imposed but were forced to halt further sales for a match in which they would be entitled to around 5,000 tickets.

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Elsewhere, prospective buyers of Chelsea are being told to “show us the money” by the bank looking after the sale in a bid to make sure a deal that saves the club from financial ruin can go through as quickly and trouble-free as possible after Friday’s deadline.

That leaves interested parties, such as British billionaire Nick Candy, in a race against time to make a bid that Raine, who have been instructed to sell Chelsea by Roman Abramovich, take seriously.

It is understood that those trying to buy the club have been given access to Chelsea’s last set of accounts and their enormous wage bill to minimise the chance of the winning bidder stalling on a deal or pulling out, with Raine hoping a sale could go through by the end of the month.

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