South Shields set to play at Sunderland AFC's Stadium of Light as Black Cats agree new partnership
South Shields will play their Durham Challenge Cup final clash with Shildon at the Stadium of Light after the Black Cats agreed a new partnership with Durham County FA.
The partnership will see the final of the Durham Challenge Cup - one of the longest-running competitions in England - hosted at the prestigious stadium.
Shields will therefore visit the Stadium of Light on Friday, May 3 (7:30pm kick-off) as they bid to beat a Shildon side who knocked-out Hartlepool United in the last round.
The new agreement sees Sunderland strengthen their presence in County Durham - something Charlie Methven made a priority upon his arrival at the club in the summer.
And he believes that the partnership can benefit both the Black Cats and clubs throughout the region in the long-run and revealed that hosting the final is 'just the start'.
“Historically County Durham is the heartland of Sunderland support and, as County Durham’s senior club, partnering with the Durham CFA gives us a tremendous platform from which to reach out to the football community across the region in a structured way," he said.
"When we arrived at Sunderland last summer, we quickly identified that re-connecting with our local community was key to the regeneration of the football club.
"Having this partnership with the Durham CFA is going to be a cornerstone of our campaign to ensure that Durham is red and white forever
"In return, it is time for us to recognise our responsibilities as the County’s senior club.
"By working in partnership with the Durham CFA, it is our desire to support the growth and development of football, from grassroots right up to the professional level, in the county.
"Hosting the historic Durham Challenge Cup final is just the start - so we are very much looking forward to welcoming the supporters, players and officials of Shildon AFC and South Shields FC”.
Durham County FA CEO John Topping echoed Methven's views, and believes the partnership can only provide a 'boost' for clubs in the region.
"We are excited by the opportunities that lie ahead for football in our county as our organisations work together more and more closely," he admitted.
"As we embark on our partnership, we are absolutely delighted that Sunderland AFC has agreed to host the final. This further endorses the clubs’ commitment to grassroots football and the wider community.
"To play at such an iconic venue is the dream of all players outside of the Professional game and is a massive boost for the County FA and the Competition.
"This gesture is further proof that our senior club is committed to working in partnership with the County FA. In turn, we recognise the benefits to football in the county of us helping Sunderland AFC be successful in its attempts to reach as wide an audience as possible for watching league football.”