Newport's unusual '£5,000 dome plan' to beat big freeze and Brighton in FA Cup

Newport boss Michael Flynn is hoping the joint-investment with Dragons rugby union club on a dome cover at Rodney Parade proves money well spent to make sure Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Brighton goes ahead.
Newport's Rodney Parade has witnessed some FA Cup giant killing over the yearsNewport's Rodney Parade has witnessed some FA Cup giant killing over the years
Newport's Rodney Parade has witnessed some FA Cup giant killing over the years

The Exiles saw their scheduled Sky Bet League Two home fixture against Southend on January 2 called off because of a frozen pitch, having also previously had the Exeter game postponed because of a waterlogged surface.

Ahead of Sunday’s televised FA Cup tie, Dragons host Ospreys in the Guinness PRO14 late on Saturday afternoon.

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With a warning of ice and freezing temperatures ahead for Wales this weekend, the two clubs have worked together in an attempt to make sure they are not again beaten by the weather.

“We are doing everything they can that the games are on,” said Flynn.

“It is about being on the front foot and hopefully give us every chance for this game to go ahead.

“There is a (rugby) game on there Saturday, which is not ideal, but it is what it is, then they will have it back up after that game so it stops the overnight frost.”

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Flynn added: “The board and the Dragons deserve a lot of credit.

“It costs roughly around £5,000 between the two teams, and there is no other way.

“If we are worried about paying £2,500 for a dome to get a third-round FA Cup game against a Premier League team live on BT Sport, then we are in trouble – even if it was £25,000, it should not be a factor.”

Newport are set for another bumper FA Cup pay-day, with the televised fixture worth around an additional £75,000 on top of competition prize money.

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The Exiles are no strangers to pulling off an upset, having beaten Leeds in the 2018 third round before holding Tottenham to a 1-1 draw and earning a replay at Wembley.

In 2019, Leicester and then Middlesbrough were both dispatched at Rodney Parade, before Manchester City ran out 4-1 winners there in the fifth round.

This season, Newport are looking to secure promotion from League Two – progress Flynn knows would not have been possible but for previous successful FA Cup campaigns.

“I think we would be struggling to be here if it was not for the FA Cup,” he said.

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“After the ‘Great Escape’ season we were heavily in debt, something close to £700,000.

“It was not until the following season where we have played Leeds and then drawn Tottenham in the cup that we were able to clear those debts.

“Since then, we have been able to put money in the bank and build on it.

“It is a fantastic achievement from the players and the staff, something which I will always be proud of.”

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Brighton defender Ben White enjoyed a successful campaign on loan at Newport in the 2017/2018 season, playing in the FA Cup ties against Leeds and Tottenham.

Flynn had been impressed by the 23-year-old’s development.

“He is an exceptional lad,” the Newport manager said. “We are very proud of him, but he deserves all the credit, all we did was give him the platform to show what he could do.

“He took everything on board and wanted to improve.

“When you see a young professional with the attitude and ability he has got, then the sky is the limit.”