Home Estate Planning Newport County and the value of an FA Cup run for lower league football clubs

Newport County and the value of an FA Cup run for lower league football clubs

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What is an FA Cup run worth in prize money, TV fees and other income to Newport County, who meet Manchester United in a David-versus-Goliath tie this weekend? City A.M. does the sums.

For League Two football clubs straddling the edge of insolvency, playing a sell-out FA Cup tie against a Premier League giant is a rare lifeline for club finances.

Newport County are set to host Manchester United on Sunday, when – regardless of the result –  significant income from the competition’s prize fund and live broadcast on BBC One will boost the club’s hopes of avoiding further losses at the end of the season. 

The Welsh club are likely to receive around £315,000 from drawing Manchester United, in the form of a guaranteed fee of £110,000 for being chosen for live broadcast and more than £200,000 for reaching the FA Cup’s fourth round. 

The fourth-tier outfit will boost that windfall further from ticket sales, and could also capitalise on their moment in the spotlight with additional sponsorship deals, as other clubs have in the past. 

Newport recently expanded the capacity of their home ground in an effort to maximise matchday revenues. The club have built an extra temporary stand at their leased stadium, Rodney Parade, taking the maximum crowd to more than 9,000. 

The last derby match against in-demand rivals Wrexham AFC offered a hint at how many supporters will attend the United game. Some 9,537 fans watched Newport seal a 1-0 win, of whom 1,400 cheered on Wrexham, now owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Tickets for Newport’s FA Cup tie sold out in 45 minutes, and the club shut its ticket office on Monday following abuse towards staff due to the clamour to watch the blockbuster tie. 

The club have sought to capitalise on the demand by hiking prices for the match. Standard adult tickets cost £30, while cheaper tickets were offered to seniors and children. But Newport won’t get to keep all of the takings.

FA Cup rules state that home teams must share gate receipts with their opponents, as each club receives 45 per cent of the door money. The remaining 10 per cent goes to the Football Association, which redistributes the funds throughout the game’s pyramid. 

One of the few previous occasions that Newport crammed more than 9,000 fans into Rodney Parade was also for an FA Cup fourth round match, against Tottenham Hotspur in 2018. On that occasion Newport held Tottenham to a 1-1 draw and forced a replay, a feat which they would no doubt be happy to replicate this Sunday. 

If fate does repeat itself, Newport would secure a match at England’s largest club stadium, Old Trafford, which would bring more cash through broadcasting and a much larger windfall from gate receipts at the 74,000-seater stadium. 

How much is an FA Cup run worth and what can it do for clubs?

Such cup runs and the money that flows from them can have a long-lasting effect. Sutton United won promotion to the Football League for the first time in 2021, four years after reaching the FA Cup fifth round, where they hosted Arsenal.  

For Newport, the timing of a major FA Cup tie against United could not be more ideal. 

The club, who currently find themselves in 14th place in League Two, recorded losses of £1.2m at the end of last season. Forecasts for this season’s cash flow do not show much improvement. 

Newport County face Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday

This week Newport received approval from league chiefs for a takeover by former Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, who already had the blessing of the club’s supporters’ trust, the current majority owners. 

If Newport can shock Manchester United, they would still be one round away from matching Grimsby Town’s FA Cup run last year. 

Grimsby were the first ever fourth-tier team to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, earning around £500,000 in prize funds alone and an estimated £1m in profit in total. The League Two side lost 5-0 to Brighton away from home, 

As they sit in 19th place this season, Grimsby’s failure to capitalise on their cup performance last year provides a warning for Newport to not get carried away by their run.

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