Sunderland AFC have explained their decision to play a cup match against a Hartlepool FC team behind closed doors.

Hartlepool FC were thrilled after being paired with the Black Cats’ Under-23s side in the Durham Challenge Cup.

The Wearside League club was set to be entitled to 50 per cent of the profits from gate receipts at the game. However, due to logistical concerns, the match was played in front of no paying spectators at the Hetton Centre on Wednesday.

A Sunderland AFC spokesman said: “Sunderland AFC and Hartlepool FC entered into discussions to find a suitable date and kick-off time for the fixture which suited both clubs.

“Due to Hartlepool’s part-time status, it was decided that the fixture would have to take place after the hours of daylight and, therefore, at a floodlit venue. “This decision was reached only a few days before the fixture.

“SAFC investigated the possibility of opening the game to the public but due to an event at the Hetton Centre, it was decided that this would not be publicly responsible. “Hartlepool also accepted that the fixture was unlikely to be profitable, so they would therefore not be missing out on any revenue from gate receipts.”

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