Newport manager Graham Coughlan has described hosting Manchester United in the FA Cup as the biggest game in the club’s history.
County booked a money-spinning fourth round date with the 12-time winners at Rodney Parade on January 28th by winning 3-1 at non-league Eastleigh on Tuesday.
The Sky Bet League Two outfit have become used to entertaining Premier League big guns in recent years, welcoming Manchester City and Tottenham among others, while the old Newport County played in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1980s before going out of business.
But Dubliner Coughlan, a massive United fan who joked his family would be “doing Irish jigs around the house” after Newport beat Eastleigh, insisted the visit of Erik ten Hag’s side will top those occasions.
“It’ll be a hell of an occasion,” Coughlan told BBC Sport Wales ahead of the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
“It’s a fourth round tie against Manchester United, for me the biggest club in this country, in Europe and in the world.
“I know some people would lean towards the fifth round game against Manchester City (in February 2019), but I’d say Manchester United all day long.”
Coughlan recalled before the Eastleigh replay how United had left him in tears as a four-year-old when Arsenal beat them 3-2 in the famous “Five-minute final” at Wembley in 1979.
Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy had dragged United back into the game in the final few minutes before Alan Sunderland slid home at the death to win the FA Cup for Arsenal.
“We’re a big Manchester United family, we’ve been to FA Cup finals with them,” Coughlan said.
“I can’t get my head around it to be honest, they are unbelievable names.
“Just to have Manchester United coming to Rodney Parade is a hell of an achievement.
“I don’t know when it will sink in, I’m sure my family are doing Irish jigs around the house at the moment.”
Television coverage, fourth round prize money and a capacity crowd around the 10,000 mark means Newport stand to make around £400,000 from the United tie.
It is a welcome boost for the supporter-owned club who have encountered financial difficulties and are on the brink of being taken over by Huw Jenkins, the former Swansea chairman who took them into the Premier League.
Newport are due to increase capacity at Rodney Parade by starting work on a temporary stand on Wednesday.
The stand will be in place for Saturday’s sold out League Two clash with Welsh rivals Wrexham.
“Another 1,000 passionate members of the Amber Army will get the chance to back the Exiles against Wrexham and Manchester United with the erection of a temporary stand behind the North Terrace,” read a club statement.
“The club is also adding an additional 400 seats to the away stand to meet the FA’s allocation guidelines for the Manchester United tie.”